Link was finally able to catch up to Romeon's unicorn in his dragon form.
Romeon seemed extremely weak. Cold sweat beaded his forehead, which was now as white as a sheet of paper. His snow-white unicorn also seemed to have reached its limits. Carrying Romeon and the two demons on his back must have taken a lot out of it.
Slowing down behind them, Link extended a claw out and gingerly closed his fingers around them.
Finally able to rest a bit on Link's palm, Romeon asked, "Did you defeat him?"
Noticing that Link did not even have a scratch on him, Romeon figured that he must have somehow bested Nozama. However, having witnessed the demon's incredible power personally, he had not the faintest idea how he was able to manage such a feat.
"Not really. However, I was able to figure out some of his weaknesses without taking a hit. That's probably as good as it gets... So, how far are we still from our destination?" asked Link.
"At our current speed, we'll probably reach there in approximately four hours."
Four hours? Link estimated that he still had. It should be enough for now, though he would surely be completely wiped out at the end of their journey.
However, his current power level was now at Level-13, which meant that he was now able to fly even faster than before. However, maintaining top speed in the air would tire him out quickly. For now, he needed only to keep some distance between himself and Nozama.
Settling at a speed he was comfortable with, Link began flying forward.
He was at the moment flying at an altitude of around 30,000 feet in the air. Beneath him, he could see the occasional village and town, as well as a smooth highway which meandered across the landscape. Caravans and lone travelers dotted the road, inching arduously across it like ants. Trees spread out across the land in a lush sheet of green. Though the realm was torn by war, Link could see that it was also a place bursting with life.
"Beautiful, isn't it?" said Romeon.
"It's alright," replied Link, nodding.
Romeon then asked, "I could tell from your reply that you and those demons aren't exactly on the best of terms. They called you the Lord of Ferde. Am I right to assume that Ferde is the dragon valley that you call home?"
"Dragon valley?" Link smiled. Romeon had probably mistaken him for the Black Dragon King of their legends, where any dragon king worth his salt naturally had a dragon valley of his own. "I suppose so. "
"Can you tell me more about it?" asked Romeon.
Link lowered his gaze and saw that Romeon was looking up at him from his palm. The palor on his face was a side-effect of taking on part of the Dimensional Rejection that was intended for Link. At first, Link had wanted to refuse him. However, seeing Romeon in such a state, Link finally gave in. "Since you insist, I'll just tell you what you need to know about the place."
He then gave Romeon a succinct explanation of the dominant powers that ruled the realm of Firuman before going into some of the wars that had happened there in recent years. Finally, he told Romeon what his reasons for entering the Fedaro realm were. Throughout his entire account, Link made no mention whatsoever of the mysterious gear that he had set out to look for in the Sea of Void.
When he was finished, he casually said, "That's the gist of it. It's not something I'm proud to say, but the only reason I entered this realm in the first place was to evade my pursuers."
Romeon did not say a word. There was a mingle of caution and curiosity on his face. He remained silent for a long while. Finally, he spoke, "Quite a coincidence, to stumble across each other despite how far apart our realms are from each other."
Link sensed that Romeon seemed to be insinuating something to him. "It certainly is a coincidence," replied Link without knowing what it was.
Romeon fell silent again. As Link flew on for another 30 minutes, Romeon suddenly asked, "May I know what you plan to do with these two demons? I should warn you. Demons are a crafty and treacherous lot. They are driven only by greed and an insatiable appetite for murder. You had best be prepared for when they turn on you if you still intend on subjugating them."
Link glanced at the two demons in his claw. Thanks to their sturdy constitutions, both of them finally regained consciousness. Not daring to come up with a retort, the two demons dumbly looked at Link, waiting for him to decide their fates.
The soul contract that the two demons had signed with Link meant that he could simply end them with a thought if he wanted to. They now knew the dragon king well enough to know that he was not someone who would be easily moved by mere words. At the moment, their lives hinged on whether they could still prove themselves useful to Link.
Link turned away from the two demons and said, "The demon that we encountered is called Nozama, Lord of the Deep. Did you notice back then that he looked no more different from you and me, at least on the outside?
"Yes, if it weren't for his eyes and aura, I would have assumed he was just an ordinary man," said Romeon with a nod.
"He still has another form. When he loses his temper, he will take on the form of a burning seraphim. His combat capacity will receive a huge boost, and he will even be able to travel between realms. At a price, he may even gain the ability to travel through time. Nozama had once revealed his seraphim form in recorded history, back in my realm. In the aftermath of the battle, he had managed to slaughter almost all of the masters in my realm. Even though he too sustained heavy damage, he was able to travel back to the point before the battle even began, essentially negating all the damage he had taken and making it seem as if nothing had ever happened."
Romeon frowned upon hearing this. "If it had never even happened, how on earth was it recorded in your history books in the first place?"
"I came across a record of the event in a Time Magician's manuscript. Spells that disrupt the flow of time would always trigger some form of ripple effect on the realm, especially time-reversing spells, whose effects are usually of a more acute nature. Through these ripples, the Time Magician was able to witness past catastrophes that had escaped the notice of historians in the past. He then left coded entries of these events in the library of the dragon valley for safekeeping."
In truth, he had received this information back in the previous game world. The Time Magician's manuscript had been key to ending Nozama. With it, the player would be able to seal up all his escape routes through time together with the aid of any accompanying NPCs in order to put a definitive end to the Lord of the Deep's tyranny. Otherwise, he would be able to simply slip back in time, smooth out all the kinks in his plans and storm the Firuman realm once more with renewed effort.
At that moment, Link realized that such a catastrophe might have happened before in Firuman. Maybe, just maybe, the dragons were not the only ones capable of navigating the Sea of Void... Of course, this was all just conjecture. He still needed to prove it somehow.
This had all come as a complete shock to Romeon. He stammered, "Is... is there really someone this powerful? So that's why he's also called the Nightmare Demon..."
"What Nightmare Demon?" asked Link suddenly.
"Ah?" Romeon jolted. He did not expect Link to be able to hear him. Composing himself, he then said, "Oh, I was just thinking to myself that Nozama's power is truly terrifying, like something out of a nightmare."
Link could tell that Romeon was hiding something from him. However, he did not press him for answers.
After a while, Romeon asked, "Dragon, do you think your realm will be able to best this Nozama?"
"I don't know, but I will do everything in my power to defeat him."
"He seems to hate you a lot. I guess you've been a hindrance to his plans for quite some time."
"Nozama's not the only enemy the Firuman realm has. The dark red vortex that transported Nozama into your realm back then, did you see it? That's the work of the God of Destruction. He too sees me as a threat."
Romeon smiled bitterly. "Are you saying that you're being hunted by a god and a Legendary-level Lord of the Deep at the same time? Looks to me you've got a lot on your plate at the moment."
Link laughed out loud. "Well, on the bright side, I'm still alive."
Romeon then fell silent. However, Link could see that he was deep in thought, trying to process everything that he had told him. He also had a feeling that when the time was right, Romeon would speak to him again.
Three hours passed in silence. Suddenly, a massive column of clouds appeared in front of them, stretching as far as the eye could see into the high heavens.
"What's that supposed to be?" Link was stunned by the sight of the cloud wall. His 100-feet-long dragon form was but a speck of dust before it.
The two demons were gaping at it as well, amazed that something so majestic existed in this realm.
Romeon said with a hint of pride, "Don't just look at part of it. Really take in everything. What do you notice?"
Following Romeon's advice, Link tilted his head back in order to get a better look at the entire cloud wall. "Wait, is this..."
A six-toothed gear pattern was impressed upon the cloud wall. Its design echoed every engraving on the surface of the actual thing in the Sea of Void. It looked exactly like the sketch that the Omirian Piasce had provided Link with.
There must be a connection between the two gears existing simultaneously in the Sea of Void and in the Fedaro realm.
Then, Link heard Romeon's voice close to his ear. "Can you see it? Behind the cloud lies the Creator's temple. The marking you see before you is the Creator's Insignia!"
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