Chapter 518: Birth of the Sunlight Warriors
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
It was four in the morning, and the morning light outside was still dim.
Allen had woken up half an hour earlier. He had been sleeping on a wide bed with the other Warriors. He looked around him and saw that the others had woken up as well.
With a mission and the pressure of a face-to-face meeting with the lord himself hanging over them, no one managed to sleep at all.
The door slammed open. It was Marshal Jacker standing in the threshold. He barked, "Everyone up, we'll be heading off soon!"
As soon as he finished, there was an instant commotion in the room. Everyone got out of the bed at the same time. All of them were all dressed up and ready for their orders, including Allen.
"Good!" Jacker looked at his soldiers with a satisfied air. "Now, go out on the courtyard and stand in four groups!"
In no more than five seconds, all one hundred of them arrived at the courtyard and stood in four neat rows. Other than the sound of their footsteps, the Warriors made not a sound as they stood in place.
When Jacker got to the courtyard, he waved a hand at them. "Let's go!"
The dawn sky was still dark, and they could barely see signs of human life on the streets. With soft, hurried steps, the troop of Warriors headed towards the looming Mage Tower in the distance.
Even after having undergone expansion, the Scorched Ridge was still no more than 500 square feet. The procession of Warriors managed to reach one of the doorways on the side of the Mage Tower.
Jacker knocked on the door, which evaporated into points of light.
"Follow me." Jacker beckoned at his troop, who all obeyed his command.
Behind the door was a wide pathway. On both sides of the pathway stood two rows of magic lights, which illuminated their surroundings. The walls around the pathway were arranged neatly, its material soothing to the eye and beautiful like jade. The Warriors looked around them in awe and reverence as they walked along the pathway.
Allen too had the same reaction as the others. He also sensed that the pathway would turn once after walking a certain distance. When they had turned a third time on the pathway, Allen calculated the total distance they had traveled and came to a conclusion. We've been going up a slope on a square pathway.
When they had walked for a few more minutes, Allen grew more confused. The Mage Tower should only be ten or so acres wide and a hundred feet tall, he thought. But we've been walking on this road for more than a few thousand feet, and there's still no end in sight.
The other Warriors were also visibly perplexed by this, as they began to feel that something odd was going on.
However, not a word came from Jacker. He remained unfazed by the seemingly endless journey. The Warriors had no choice but to keep their confusion to themselves and obediently march on behind Jacker.
Just like that, the group of Warriors marched on upslope for 20 miles along the illuminated pathway. Some of the Warriors were already sweating profusely and gasping for air.
Allen sensed that he could not take much of the exertion any longer. For some reason, he felt that his body was somewhat heavier than usual. His feet sank heavy on the ground with each step he took as if they were made out of lead. Allen would have been fine walking for 20 miles through the mountains without feeling any strain on his lungs. However, the path they were on at the moment did not seem like an ordinary mountain trek.
A few Warriors had already collapsed to the ground, continuing the rest of their journey on all fours. This was really tiring.
"Marshal, are we there yet?" one of the Warriors blurted out.
Marshal Jacker still seemed undaunted. His answer was the same as before. "We're almost there. Just hold on for a bit."
The Warriors were left with no other option than to gnash their teeth and soldier on.
They continued on for ten more miles. The pathway seemed almost endless. Completely spent at this point, most of the Warriors had simply given up walking on two legs and now crawled on all fours.
If it were not for the fact that they had been given good food and sufficient training every day, these Warriors would have been lying motionless on the ground a long time ago.
Sweat dripped from Allen like rain. He was the youngest in his group. Though the others were around 20 years of age, he had reached Level-4 power, making him one of the more powerful Warriors in his squadron. He was also considerably strong. There were few among his peers who could rival him in terms of strength. He was especially gifted in the art of combat. How else was he able to slay more than 20 Undead Warriors in Girvent Forest without a scratch on him?
At this point, out of the hundred Warriors in his squadron, he was the only one left standing. However, he was now gnashing his teeth as he took each step with apparent difficulty.
I need to keep on standing. I'm the strongest one here, I need to keep on going! screamed Allen's mind.
As they continued on up the pathway, some of the Warriors had already lagged behind Allen. These Warriors now lay on the ground motionless, taking in huge gulps of air like fish out of water. Their bodies had all but failed them completely, and their minds were already floating in and out of consciousness.
White light enveloped their bodies. The next moment, they had completely vanished.
The other Warriors were oblivious to their compatriots' vanishing act. They were all too focused on marching forward to worry about anyone else.
There still seemed to be no end to the path ahead of them. One by one, the Warriors began dropping out of the group, their number steadily declining.
Sweat flowed from Allen's forehead, blurring his vision. However, he did not wipe it out of his eyes. His hands dangled heavily beside him, and he was too tired to raise them up to his face. Allen could only blink away the sweat that had dripped down his face as he resolutely continued his journey.
HIs lungs were now on fire. His heart beat like tambourines, which sent shockwaves through every blood vessel in his body. His legs had gone numb from the climb for some time now. They ground torturously against their hip joints with each step he made.
Still, he pressed on. Instead of crawling on the ground or leaning against the walls on both sides of the pathway, he resolutely kept pace with Marshal Jacker's gait in front of him.
After what seemed like an eternity, Marshal Jacker finally stopped. Sweat had now glistened on his forehead, and he was also slightly panting for breath. He turned around at Allen with a weary smile. "You're quite the sturdy one, aren't you?"
After trudging on for so long, the young man was already close to fainting. Still, his legs persevered on instinctively, and he would probably have walked himself to death if Jacker had let him do so. This was indeed a Warrior of unwavering resolve.
Allen smiled weakly back at him. He then hunched over to prop himself against his knees, as he took in huge gulps of air.
At that moment, their surroundings shifted. They now found themselves in a spacious hall, where the other Warriors were lying on square platforms.
After regaining a bit of his strength, he lifted an arm to wipe the sweat off his forehead. He then saw a black-haired Magician on the far side of the great hall. Though he could not clearly see his face, the figure exuded an indescribably oppressive air, as if he was the center of the universe himself.
That must be the Lord of Ferde. Allen's heart shook with excitement. Without warning, he felt his body being lifted up into the air, and then he landed on one of the stone platforms.
A clear voice resounded in the great hall. "Warriors, do you see the vial beside your platform?"
Allen turned and saw a trough beside his platform. A crystal vial with a cork on it was placed in the trough.
The voice spoke again. "This is the Seed of Sunlight. It will restructure and strengthen your body once you drink it. You will all be endowed with Sunlight Power."
Allen's eyes widened with amazement upon hearing this. Some of the more impatient Warriors had already uncorked their vials and drank its contents in one gulp.
Allen was a bit more cautious than the rest. He hesitated for a moment. His limbs still sore from his journey, he feared that his grip would not be firm enough and that he might accidentally spill the Seed of Sunlight from its vial.
After hesitating for half a minute, Allen finally decided to take the crystal vial. He uncorked it and poured the fragrant, light blue liquid into his mouth.
Once the liquid slid down his throat, Allen felt an inferno raging down his throat and into his stomach. From there, the heat spread out rapidly to all parts of his body.
At first, Allen only felt his body temperature rising. Soon after, he could feel a sharp pain cutting through flesh, bone, and blood vessels like a knife.
There were now shrieks of pain around him. Some of the Warriors roared out in excruciating agony. Someone had fallen from their stone platforms onto the ground, where he rolled around as if trying to put out an invisible fire around him. Suspecting that they were all given poison, a few others angrily mumbled curses into the air.
Though he could still withstand the pain, Allen too felt a sense of suspicion rising in him. Could it really be poison?
At that moment, the voice resonated once more in the great hall.
"Warriors, power does not come out of thin air. The strong do not simply descend from the heavens. Only through fire can steel be forged; only through countless battles and bloodshed can a Warrior's spirit be nurtured."
An epiphany came over Allen. That's right, one must experience great pain to become strong. How will any of us be able to attain greater power if we all fall under the weight of this ordeal right now?
Resolve filled his heart once more. He gritted his teeth and lay on the platform, letting the invisible knife carve through his body.
Only one thought surfaced in his mind. Our lord would not lie to us. I will make this power mine... I will succeed, I must succeed...
Time passed. After what seemed like an age, Allen felt that the pain in his body had subsided altogether. He now felt lighter and more at ease.
A mysterious power now lay within the depths of his body. This power was as fiery, domineering and passionate as the afternoon sun. When Allen first felt its presence, he also sensed that all the pain in his body had fled from him. This new power rapidly spread out in him, at the same time rejuvenating his weary body.
"Is this Sunlight Power? It's really powerful!" Excitement sprang from Allen's heart. Around him, he could hear shouts of joy and surprise from the other Warriors. They too had received this great power.
The power within their bodies grew from their chests and then to all four limbs. At last, a power circulation network had taken form inside their bodies.
The power in them continued expanding as it circulated through their bodies. Half an hour later, Allen could feel that the power's rate of growth had started to slow down and stabilize itself.
Still, Allen felt that he was now a few times more powerful than before. He could also feel that his new power seemed inexhaustible and that he did not need to worry about using it up.
The clear voice spoke up again in the great hall. "Congratulations! Most of you were able to endure the experience and received Sunlight Power as a reward. From now on, you are now the Sunlight Warriors of Ferde."
In the air, runes shaped like a golden sun appeared and drifted down slowly to the wrists of every Warrior who had successfully attained Sunlight Power.
There was a sizzling sound, and Allen felt a sharp pain from his wrist. Panicking, he lifted his sleeve and saw that a golden rune was branded on his wrist. The rune's design was complicated, but he was able to make out the shape of a sword on it. The sword was in turn surrounded by a number of golden stars.
Allen counted six stars on the rune. He turned to the Warrior beside him and saw that the rune on his wrist bore four stars on it. Out of the Warriors in the great hall, only Allen had six stars around his rune.
Just then, Allen noticed that his sight had improved tremendously. He was able to see the little points of light on the wrist of a Warrior standing ten feet away.
The voice spoke again. "Allen, you possess incredible willpower and have endured the most pain out of anyone else. As your reward, I have bestowed upon you the strongest Sunlight Power among your squadron."
A pale golden sword floated in the air towards him. Under the envious gaze of the other Warriors, Allen accepted the sword with both hands.
He saw that the light glinting off the sword was as clear as a stream, the runes on it elegant like a master painting. He grasped the sword's handle, and the sword instantly resonated with the Sunlight Power in his body. Golden light shone out from the sword. On it appeared a row of golden words which read, "May sunlight illuminate the world."
Allen's chest swelled with pride. He rose up and held his sword up high.
Everyone looked at him with admiration and envy. With the sword in his hand, Allen had nothing to fear. He could sense that the Lord of Ferde was also looking at him, his eyes filled with encouragement.
I, Allen, will become the strongest Warrior in Ferde! Allen swore adamantly to himself.
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