Chapter 450: Was it an Illusion?
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Dragon Valley, Mist Maze.
Whoosh, whoosh. A red dragon carrying two figures hurtled out of the Mist Maze.
Once outside the maze, the two figures jumped down from the dragon's back and began racing across the Korora Mountain range.
One of them, a black shadow, streaked across the ground while being followed closely by a shape of pure light floating ten feet above the ground.
From within the light, a voice rang out, "Eugene, I know what you're thinking. The dragons are weakened, and you're planning something up north, aren't you?"
"Halino, stop sticking your nose into my business all the time! I'm just going to settle a deal with that upstart Morpheus. I am capable of restraint, you know!"
"Restraint? Who was the one responsible for the destruction of the city of Veron 200 years ago? Who was the one who caused that ruckus with the merfolk 130 years ago? Wasn't it you who brought that epidemic to the city of Tanreau 80 years ago? Let's talk about something a bit more recent, then. It was you, wasn't it, who had taught the Dark Elves how to summon Divine Gear? I can tell when you're up to something!"
In front of him, the black figure laughed bitterly. "Halino, your words do not mean a thing to me. There's no point in hanging onto such trivial things. What do the lives and deaths of mortals have to do with us? As long as there's still a realm to live in, everyone's happy. Don't you agree?"
"That's what you think!" The apparition of light laughed coldly. "I was given this power by the realm of Firuman just so that I can deal with someone like you!"
"You really should keep your nose out of people's business!" Eugene shouted back angrily, his pace quickening even more.
"Yes, and your business just happens to fall into my territory!"
"Screw you, Halino!" Eugene exploded in anger.
In the Emerald Council, they were able to put aside their differences for the sake of sealing up the spatial crack, but once outside the Council, they resumed their almost 300-year rivalry.
In a flash, they vanished into the woods.
After a while, another red dragon came out of the maze, this time with the Mountain Sage Heroto on it. Once outside the Mist Maze, he leaped down from the dragon's back, patted on its head and spoke with a sigh, "Little one, tell your queen to stop being stubborn and just give up on fighting that thing head-on."
He then scampered towards the woods and sank into the earth.
Not long after, Bryant exited from the Mist Maze. He turned back to give one last look at the maze and chuckled bitterly. "Oh Link, you attaining dragonification may not be a good thing. Your infatuation with the Red Dragon Queen will most certainly spell your doom."
He, too, patted the head of the Red Dragon Warrior who had flown him across and said with a smile, "Little one, there's no hope left for the Dragon Valley. Come with me to the Isle of Dawn; I'm sure you'll get along fine with the emerald dragons there."
The emerald dragons were descendants of those who had left Dragon Valley centuries ago to live with the High Elves. Some of their ancestors had fallen in love with the High Elves there, some were drawn to the peaceful way of life in the Isle of Dawn, while there were others who gained the elves' magical affinity to nature from the World Tree.
As of now, the number of emerald dragons had reached no less than 500.
The Red Dragon Warrior hesitated, pondering the High Elf's words. The situation in Dragon Valley had indeed worsened, and its future did not look too promising.
Sensing the hesitation in the dragon, Bryant laughed encouragingly. "Young one, with your strength, you'll be treated like a king. For someone with your potential, there's just no other way to go but up. Dragon Valley is doomed anyway, so shouldn't you start looking for greener pastures now?"
"I... won't be able to face the queen."
"Ah... You're already an adult, and the Red Dragon Queen isn't even your mother. Shouldn't you be the one deciding your own future? Also, given the state she's led the Dragon Valley into, I don't think she's a leader worth following."
The Red Dragon Warrior hesitated for a long while, then bit his lip and began flying towards the Isle of Dawn.
On his back, Bryant's face lit up with a satisfied smile at his newest recruit for the army of the Isle of Dawn.
In the Dragon Valley.
Outside the city walls, the Red Dragon Elders had assembled before their queen who was explaining the details of the city's evacuation to them.
"We'll be going into the Soul Realm to deal with the Void Tyrant. Even if there doesn't seem to be any way to take it down, we'll at least try to buy some time. Pettalong, I'll leave the evacuation arrangements for the Warriors and commoners to you."
"Understood." Pettalong nodded. He glanced at Link, was about to say something, and then stopped himself.
Link knew what he was going to say, and waved a hand casually at him. "You go, I'll protect the queen."
There was a look of relief on Pettalong's face, and he turned back to begin the evacuation of the Dragon Valley.
Link turned to Gretel. "Time is of the essence, this thing is about to move. We should start right now."
In his current state, entering the Soul Realm was no longer a problem for Link. With ease, he mentally cast the Soul Conversion Spell.
Whoosh. In an instant, the colors of the world before him faded into black and white. The space around him was dotted with points of red light, which were the souls of the Red Dragons.
Among these lights, the Red Dragon Queen's stood out the brightest, dying even the grey sky in a dim reddish hue.
Coming in second was Link's soul, whose light was different from the others. It was neither red nor black, but transparent like water. It was also extremely concentrated, almost solid-like, and did not stand out as much.
Then there were the crimson lights of the Red Dragon Elders and the Dragon Soul Guard. They were not Legendary Magicians, and so their lights seemed far weaker. Compared to the Red Dragon Queen's, theirs were like little stars overshadowed by the sun itself, rendered almost invisible.
At that point, the city up ahead had turned into a hell on earth. While there were no tentacles in the Soul Realm, it was however filled with a thick fog, where the souls of the people could vaguely be seen.These souls seemed to be on the verge of going out. Their first instinct had been to escape the fog, but they were pulled back by some dark force in it, making it impossible to escape.
Aghast at the sight of all this, the Red Dragon Queen said tremblingly, "This fog must be the doing of the Void Tyrant. He's still consuming these souls! His soul is simply too strong!"
Everyone felt almost too clearly the oppressive aura of its power. The black fog in front had covered both sky and ground, shutting out all light in the world.
In the face of such incredible power, a look of hesitation hung on each Warrior's face.
Link furrowed his brows. In the Soul Realm, if one lacked the confidence to win, one would not be able to bring out the most of their abilities, and the battle would have been lost before it had even started.
He turned to everyone and spoke out loud, "Everyone, listen to me!"
When he had all the dragon Warriors' attention, he continued, "Ever since I became a Magician, I have seen countless battles, fought many powerful enemies, and never have I known defeat. This time, I intend to make sure that my win streak remains unbroken. Follow me, and I'll guide you all to victory!"
Link's voice was powerful, but not too loud. Though he had exaggerated his words a bit, no one doubted them. The dragon Warriors were confident in Link's combat capabilities.
The Red Dragons were all looking at Link, and raising their weapons in the air, they roared in unison, "To victory!"
The light coming off their bodies shone even brighter, and their souls became even more concentrated, their conviction greatly fortified. This was what Link had wanted to see.
He beckoned at them, "Onward!"
He led the way, with the Red Dragon Queen on his side, and the Red Dragons following behind him.
Soon, they arrived before the black fog. Link reached into it and felt the power within. "The power is faint, mixed with the Void's aura. It may be harmful to the souls of normal beings, but not to us. Everyone, this is only the Void Tyrant's spirit aura. Its true body lies within this fog."
Saying this, Link stepped into the fog, and the others followed suit.
Once inside the fog, visibility worsened almost immediately. Their field of vision was no more than 30 feet, as there was nothing but darkness in all directions. From time to time, the soul of a commoner would appear in the fog. Everything felt unreal.
In the Soul Realm, magical power was drastically weakened. Link unconsciously tightened his grip on his magic sword. The Red Dragon Queen had a sword and a shield in both hands as well, giving off the impression of a mighty female Warrior.
After walking 100 feet into the city, the fog gradually thickened, and their field of vision was reduced to two feet. Link could only see at this point the Red Dragon Queen beside him and a few other Red Dragon Warriors behind him. But he could still sense the presence of the others, so there was not much else to worry about.
Suddenly, Link sensed movement in front of him and drew out his sword in a flash.
A black figure swooped at him, which he blocked with his sword. With a clink, the unknown object was sliced in two by the Dragon King's Fury. Quickly, Link reached out and seized one of its dismembered sections.
As soon as he grabbed it, Link's hand went cold. A snake-like thing squirmed in his hand and coiled instinctively around his wrist.
Link looked at it and saw that it was a translucent black band as thick as his wrist. It seemed to have the same properties as the black tentacles in the material realm. The only thing different was that the band-like creature was by itself, unlike the throng of tentacles that was the Void Tyrant. This tentacle was also weak. It probably would be around Level-6 in the material realm.
This shocked Link somewhat, as it meant that the Void Tyrant had started reproducing. He immediately shouted back, "Ambush!"
At that same moment, shouts could be heard from the Warriors behind him. They were also ambushed, but no one got hurt, as the enemy did not present much of a threat.
With visibility being greatly reduced, they were in a great disadvantage and susceptible to further ambushes. At this point, Link activated the Assassin's Vision of Truth.
With the Vision of Truth activated, everything before them lit up. More than half of the black fog had faded away, and Link's field of vision had increased to 300 feet instantly.
They were now near the entrance of the city. The road in front of them ran straight, with houses lining both sides. Link saw that there were transparent tentacles everywhere, swimming about in the air like fish, and in the sky hung an impenetrable cloud of darkness.
"That must be where the Void Tyrant's real body is; Silverstar must also be in that direction."
"Come on, keep up! Follow me!" Link shouted back, and the Warriors returned into a formation as they followed him on.
Right, the Warriors still can't see much. They can only rely on their senses to follow my lead, and their senses can easily be influenced by emotion, thought Link. I'll need to keep making sounds so that they'll be able to hear at all times.
And so, Link announced to the party behind him the places they had passed as they moved on. He explained everything in detail, from the conditions of the road to the floating tentacles around them.
This had brought on a clear effect. Though the black fog obstructed much of their sight, the Red Dragon Warriors were still able to move in formation. Even when they were ambushed by the transparent tentacles, they were able to deal with them without too much trouble.
After half an hour, the party had advanced more than 500 feet, and they were getting closer to the cloud of darkness. Just then, Link heard a feeble voice. "Help me, help me..."
Link was shaken for a moment, but knowing the Soul Realm, he feared that this might be an illusion. He then spoke to the Red Dragon Queen beside him, "Did you hear that? Someone's calling for help."
Gretel cocked an ear for any sound and then shook her head. "I didn't hear anything."
"Could it have been an illusion?" Link raised his voice, calling for everyone to stop, as he listened again.
"I'm right here! Link, I'm right here, save me!"
He heard the voice again, even more clearly than before. Link turned to look at Gretel, who met his gaze and asked in a low voice, "You heard it again?"
Gretel frowned. She listened intently again but shook her head still. "I still hear nothing."
Link then asked some of the Warriors behind him, and they all gave him the same answer.
He was the only one who could hear the voice calling for help.
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