Chapter 178: The Primordial Pattern (part one)

TL: eristol

Sorry for the long wait. With this phase of the story, we will steadily move into the climax of this arc. Until then enjoy~

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On the night after the day of our return to the academy.

We arranged another meeting to discuss our findings on the golem island.

The members in attendance were my brother, myself, Harold, Chloe, Beatrice, Brad, Harlan, Auguste, and Klaus.

Actorius-sensei was absent.

He had some pressing matters that required his presence so he headed to other locations yesterday through the transfer gates.

The places he went to visit were the southern part of Hafan and the northern part of Ignitia.

“Well, then, let’s discuss the truths we unraveled on that island—”

The discussion was led by my brother Eduard, who revealed the appalling legacy left behind by our uncle.

The existence of an isolated island completely guarded by a golem in the form of a giant fish.

An alchemist’s paradise where every creature and inhabitant were actually golems.

The secret of Nigred.

Traces of the Wynt family’s involvement.

And a mountain of human bones scattered around the seabed surrounding the island.

“The owner of the ship told me that sometimes strange human remains wash up on the beach in those waters. Apparently, those bones are popular among collectors as items of interest.”

My brother cast his gaze around the room before continuing.

“The first time those remains washed ashore was at the end of the Fifth Giant War.”

That year, a large number of human remains washed up on the beach near the golem island.

People at that time thought those bodies belonged to the enemy soldiers.

They assumed a ship filled with giants must have been sunk by an Aurelian warship.

Certainly, if they were thought of as giants, people of this land wouldn’t take notice if they did not have a regular human form.

“The year when the Fifth Giant War ended. It was the year when Oswald Bort died at the age of eighteen.”

With those words, my brother concluded his explanation of the golem island.

Apart from the survey team members, everyone in attendance had a complicated expression on their face.

“ … ”

A long silence followed.

The sudden revelation was difficult for everyone to fathom, let alone believe.

I looked at everyone’s expression one-by-one.

The one whose brows were furrowed especially deeply upon hearing this story was Brad.

I suppose the realization that his arduous life was a consequence of this very incident would be too much to bear, wouldn’t it?

Auguste nodded deeply, as if he had something in his mind.

Harlan was staring at the empty space with a frustrated expression.

Could there have been something in Uncle’s story that drove him over the edge?

Just as I shifted my gaze to Klaus, he broke the silence.

“If the Wynts are involved, then the Hafans are not unrelated. Sir Oswald Bort must have been chosen by the Wynt family as the Mad King Slayer.”

If the Wynt family approved of this, Klaus continued, then that would mean the Hafan royal family had also acknowledged this.

At those words, Brad, the man whose life was turned completely upside down by Oswald Bort, nodded his head.

My uncle, the deeds he committed were most abominable in nature.

Yet his actions were acknowledged as justifiable by the Hafan royal family, and even the victim, Brad.

“But why did the Wynt family instigate the Mad King’s murder at that specific point in time? Considering the impact on the present, it seems there are more losses than gains.”

“No, I wouldn’t be so certain about that. The truce of the Fifth Giant War, as I recall, was quite unnatural and abrupt, was it not?”

Auguste responded to Klaus’ question.

Was that what he was thinking about earlier?

“The war was instigated and led by the Mad King from behind the scenes, and Sir Oswald made a noble sacrifice to stop it, could this not be a possibility?”

Just like Chloe, Auguste seems to have interpreted my uncle’s actions as a heroic tale.

No, if he truly did end the last great war, it could certainly be considered a noble sacrifice, regardless of whether his motive was noble or not.

That, at least, must have been the intention of the Wynt family.

“I see, it is possible that the Great War was ended by my uncle. The timing certainly matches … I will try to investigate what led to that outcome.”

My brother was smiling, but I could tell that he was troubled.

Well, even if I know that my uncle had made a noble sacrifice, I can’t imagine it being motivated by anything but purely out of curiosity.

“But, but, but.”

Harlan spoke up in a suppressed tone.

“If I could get my hands on that Aqua Vitae, I would … Sir Eduard, um, the Nigred is here with you now, isn’t it…?”

Harlan asked, his voice indicating he had made up his mind to do something.

No doubt about it, he is thinking of refining the Aqua Vitae from the Nigred once again.

“Yes, However, the essence of Nigred is now housed within Tir’s soul. Even if we were to uncover how my uncle transmuted it and follow the same process, there is no guarantee that we would achieve the same result.”

“No, no, no, I was just joking. Even I wouldn’t want to think of myself as a material.”

Harlan jokingly replied, however, he was clearly serious about his question earlier.

I am glad that my uncle’s diary and papers did not contain any transmutation method for the Aqua Vitae.

With the gist of the situation explained already, my brother began to summarize the information.

“… One thing we can be certain of from this is that the Bort lineage is strongly hated and targeted by the Mad king …  And the possibility is strong that the prophecies Erica saw in her previous life may have been schemes concocted by the Mad King himself.”

My brother looked at me, then shifted his gaze toward Brad.

“The Mad King’s intentions are now clear—he plans to launch an even more vicious and complex attack … not for the sake of subjugating humans, but purely for the sake of vengeance.”

Instead of covertly infiltrating human territories, he is targeting us outright.

All to avenge the humiliation he suffered.

To reclaim his body and souls, he aimed for Brad.

To exact his vengeance, he came after my brother and me.

He must be planning a revenge tragedy as gruesome and dark as possible.

“So we now know the motives behind the Mad King’s recent actions.”

Having said that, my brother concluded his report on the golem island.

After sharing detailed information about our uncle’s case, Harlan stood up next to inform everyone about the current situation of the Golden Wolf.

“The Golden Wolf is slowly approaching the center of the continent while repeatedly moving north and south over the past week.”

The resulting damage was—

Entire villages in the frontiers of Hafan and Lucanlandt.

A whole family of lumberjacks in southern Lucanlandt.

Several miners from a quarry north of Hafan.

Each dot Harlan pinned on the map were sites of horrific tragedies.

The line connecting the dots, which seemed to meander randomly in different directions, led to Lindis.

“To be honest, it wouldn’t be surprising if he is already lurking within the academy city by now.”

“Our first priority is to capture him. I would like to discuss with Brad and Klaus about setting up a barrier around the academy premises—”

The door opened with a bang just as my brother broached the subject of setting up a barrier to capture the Golden Wolf.

“Eduard! It’s the worst! I have two bad news.”

“Elric … ?”

Actorius-sensei appeared agitated as he called out to my brother immediately upon entering the room.

Everyone’s attention gathered on him.

“Did I, perhaps, come at a bad time?”

“No, it’s fine, Elric. Can you tell us the bad news in order as much as possible?”

Actorius-sensei coughed and then began to explain.

I wonder what kind of terrible news he is about to share.

“Well, first of all … the silver fragment I was looking into is from the leg of Abaddon the demon locust, a phantom beast from the southern continent. This here is the demon locust specimen I obtained yesterday from the southern port town of Hafan, and the tissue components of this specimen were exactly the same as those of that silver shard.”

Everyone gasped at the revelation.

“As you all know, the demon locust Abaddon is a phantom beast that feeds on the earth’s fertility, sucks up magical energy from leylines and devours the earth.”

Such a dangerous phantom beast, in this northern continent?

“In the southern continent, the legends of outbreak of the demon locust Abaddon after natural calamities are linked with those of salvation brought about by the Angel of Starvation. For the vampires to bring both of them as weapons to the northern continent means they intend to cause a never-ending famine on this continent.”

“A great famine!? Do they plan on destroying humanity!?”

Klaus grew furious.

Most of Ichthys’ granaries are located in Hafan.

It is the culmination of the Hafanese people’s centuries worth of hard work.

As the heir of Hafan, I am certain this is unacceptable.

“Yes, that is correct. But if humanity is sent to the brink of extinction, they wouldn’t be able to obtain any source of flesh and blood.”

Actorius-sensei said with a puzzled expression.

On the contrary, the enemy’s objective, which we uncovered from the case of the golem island, is not subjugation but vengeance.

My brother will probably inform him about this later, so there is no need to correct him now.

“Now, for the second piece of bad news. We have found traces of leyline erosions caused by a corrupted altar. The location is an abandoned church in a provincial city of northern Ignitia.”

Actorius-Sensei’s hand trembled slightly.

“There had been a disaster in that region caused by heavy downpour nearly a month ago. Initially it was thought to be the result of an error in weather management by the magic tower in that area. But upon investigation on-site, we found traces of the curse used in corrupted altars to create a mutated angel that Brad and I had been analyzing. There were also traces of using a large amount of magical energy extracted from the leylines. In other words, there is a high possibility that the mutated Angel of Starvation and the demonic locust are already in the enemy’s hands.”

Actorius-sensei concluded his report while looking at everyone, choosing his words cautiously.

An angel with strength equal to that of Palug, and a phantom beast that causes famine.

They are already in the clutches of the vampires.

This is one of the gravest crises we have ever faced.

“It has already been a month … ? Then why are they not making any moves with such an advantage? No, more importantly, this matter needs to be shared with the entire kingdom as soon as possible!”

My brother’s eyes flitted across the room, taking in everyone’s expression.

There were no objections, everyone nodded in agreement.

In great haste, we discussed the matter of communicating the information and countermeasures to our nations.

The airspace patrol of Ignitian dragon knights must be expanded.

The monastic knights of the Military Order of Útför must be released from confinement, secured and reassigned.

High-ranking mages must be dispatched across Ichthys beyond the east to constantly monitor leyline interferences.

Transfer gates need to be set up in every major cities for disaster evacuation, and supplies need to be stocked in facilities like the church that can serve as evacuation shelters.

“All of these measures must be carried out immediately, but we cannot disclose the matter of the Angel of Starvation and the demon locust … if that happens, there will be a backlash from every country.”

Harlan let out a deep sigh.

“There are two issues in particular that are going to cause problems and put us on the back foot. The reassignment of Útför monastic knights in Hafan, and dispatching high-ranking mages to Lucanrant.”

“It is imperative to publicize that the Mad King has continued to exist since the founding of Ignitia, but it will be challenging to do so without causing some level of friction.”

If it is merely a friction, that would be fine, but it would be a disaster if this results in a full-blown conflict at a critical juncture like this.

However, we have little choice but to act with haste.

After some more discussion, Brad gently raised his hand.

“Ed, can I have a moment of your time?”

“Yes, of course, Brad.”

Brad moved to the center of the room.

His expression was remarkably calm compared to usual.

No, it was not that he had a calm expression, but rather that his usual oppressive and somber air had  disappeared.

In a quiet, measured tone, Brad began to speak.

“I have a solution that could be our final opportunity to defeat the Mad King. I request your assistance in transferring me to another world.”

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