Chapter 39: Battle of Eradication (Two)
'Battle of Eradication. Such familiar words.'
Thales had watched a number of plays in Dark Night Temple beside the Grand Bazaar, even though his concentration was mostly focused on how to steal money from the pockets of the entranced audiences.
Undeniably, all the priests in Dark Night Temple looked neurotic—they wrapped themselves up to the point that not a single bit of wind would enter through their clothing and touch their skin, and chanted crazy words such as "the Lord will return", "the world will inevitably collapse for the second time" and "histories are all lies, the only one who saved the world was the True God of Dark Night" every day. ("Fortunately, they didn't chant something like 'the long night is approaching, evil is everywhere'... Eh, Ryan, pay some attention. That wealthy person is about to turn away!"–The child beggar, Thales, who had been watching the play)
However, for Thales, who was illiterate after transmigrating, the plays they staged were definitely a good, gratuitous way to understand the world
'Erm, perhaps it's not such a good way,' Thales, who had been walking behind Gilbert, thought of a play called 'The True God of Dark Night Descended upon the World and Personally Rescued Thirty-Three Princesses' and could not help but pout.
Among the various plays, which ranged from those that were absolutely absurd, to those that served as a warning to humans, Thales remembered one called 'The Day Calamity Fell, The Hour the World was Eradicated' especially well.
That was about the Battle of Eradication.
Even now, Thales still remembered that amidst the backdrop, which had black and red as its main colors, a masked man in black held chains with a sickle and circled the entire stage with heavy footsteps. The background tune often became gloomy and scary at this moment, frequently making the curious children below the stage who were watching cry.
At the positions where the man in black walked by, actors wearing headgears of various colors to symbolize places around the world wailed and cried, falling down one by one on the stage.
He still remembered the frightening words spoken by the narrator, who sounded like a cawing crow.
"Calamity is coming! Calamity is coming! It will not let go of anyone, will not let go of this world, until every single person is seized by calamity!
"Wake up, my friends, wake up, wake up! Calamity will engulf everything, hell's river will overflow into the world and heaven will collapse onto the earth. The world is on the brink of eradication!
"The Gods will always be with us, and the demons are also beside us. The emperor stands behind us, and the warriors are before us! We can only survive through fighting bravely, and only Dark Night is eternal!
"My friends, calamity is coming! Dark Night has said that the boatman at hell's river does not have a detestable face, neither is he an inhuman, evil fruit, or a demonic flower, but he can corrode a person's heart! We must be willing to wield our swords and return home in glory with our heroes so that we will not become the slaves and underlings of this calamity!
"This is the last battle. Make no distinctions between ourselves, make no distinctions between the sacred and the mortals! The Battle of Eradication! With Dark Night enveloping the world, calamity will definitely disappear!"
In Thales' indistinct memory, in that crazy play, the character who held the chains with a sickle, who was the so-called 'calamity', slaughtered countless living beings until it was defeated by the union of the entire world.
However, until the end, none of the priests and actors of Dark Night Temple explained what 'calamity' truly was. When children on the streets questioned them, the priests would make them utter, "Dark Night shall return, and I am willing to serve". The priests would then give them a piece of barley sugar candy and say with a smile that "calamity is the world's enemy."
Thales, who was deep in thought, did not notice that Gilbert had led him before the second-floor stairs.
The three giant portraits of Constellation's kings which he saw when he first arrived hung neatly on the wall.
"Lusark Kolven is a famous portrait artist in the era of Mindis the Third. His portraits strive to portray the spirit and vitality of each person as best as possible by combining history, environment, and movements."
Gilbert stood still below the portraits of the three late kings of Constellation and spoke with an engrossed tone. "'The Three Constellation Kings'. Just as His Majesty explained to you before, these are the very few kings and sovereigns among the masterpieces Kolven left behind."
'A master's work?' Upon hearing this, Thales raised his head and carefully looked at the middle portrait on the wall—the young knight with his seven-pointed-star insignia, held a spear while riding a horse. Judging from his posture, he was probably charging forward.
The last time Thales saw the portrait, it was only a quick, rushed glance. He had the time to observe it carefully today. He noticed that the long spear, held by the young knight with a valiant and heroic bearing, had a chipped blade. His royal crown was also damaged and mottled. His armor was covered in splashes of blood, and his horse looked fatigued. All the knights behind him were injured; some held up their shields and charged forward, some were covered in blood, some of their armors were torn, some of them held each other by the arm while on their horses, some only had one arm left.
The area in the distance under the setting sun was littered with dead bodies and weapons. There were very few people left standing, serving as lonely decorations for the devastating battlefield. Blood and darkness were the other colors that dominated the color scheme.
Apart from the young knight with a seven-pointed-star on his crown, who looked like he was letting out a frenzied roar, the six people behind him had desolate and sorrowful expressions. However, their faces still showed no hesitation in charging forward. They moved forward behind Tormond the First, who was holding up his spear and roaring fiercely.
Having seen this, Thales' heart stirred. He suddenly remembered what Kessel the Fifth said. "This is Tormond the First, the last prince of the final Empire, and the founder of Constellation. Known as the 'King of Renaissance', his bravery in the Battle of Eradication is still being eulogized even now."
"He is—" Thales' expression changed slightly. He looked at Gilbert, who was beside him.
"Yes. The 'King of Renaissance', Tormond Jadestar." Gilbert answered with a profound expression. "After the Battle of Eradication over six hundred years ago, among the surviving empire commanders in the Western Battlefield, he held the highest status and position. He is also your ancestor, the man who founded Constellation after the battle."
'Western Battlefield, surviving, empire commanders, highest status, and position.'
Thales immediately caught the keywords.
"Empire commanders? Which empire? What was his status? Apart from the Western Battlefield, were there other battlefields? Who were Tormond's enemies?"
Gilbert was used to Thales' learning style (cutting Gilbert off at any time and raising questions, or even refutations). He smiled without taking any offense and said, "It was, of course, the one and only empire, 'the Empire'.
"The only empire?"
"Yes." Gilbert inhaled and flashed a nostalgic smile. "Did you know, young Sir Thales, that the known world used to be a broad piece of land shaped like an arm? And our kingdom, Constellation's original land was at the position of the wrist.
Thales raised his head abruptly. "What?" He cut Gilbert off in shock. "A piece… an entire piece of land? What about the Eastern and Western Peninsulas which are separated by the Sea of Eradication—"
However, Gilbert only smiled and raised a hand, gesturing for him to be quiet in front of the late king's portrait.
"Listen to me until I finish speaking. The answer lies in the Battle of Eradication."
However, Thales had already thought of an answer in his mind, which was not far from the truth.
'Battle of Eradication. Wait, the ocean between the two peninsulas is called the… Sea of Eradication?'
Having thought of this, Thales could not help but poke fun at the situation. "Gilbert, erm, are you going to tell me that a strong celestial entity led an army and invaded our world? And then, after a fierce battle, we managed to thwart their efforts? But we accidentally shattered a magical well which exploded and separated the world into two peninsulas?"
Gilbert's smile froze. "What?"
"And then, the one on the west was called Kalimdor—"
"Shh…" Gilbert could not help but smile and cut him off. "My young Sir, you indeed possess the ability to write novels and create stories. If it was not for your identity, perhaps you could become a splendid bard or poet. However, we are having a history lesson right now."
Thales shrugged and stopped speaking. He kept another piece of newfound memory in the deep recesses of his mind. It was still one related to the girl with adolescent delusions.
Gilbert continued watching Thales patiently until he stopped speaking, and became solemn in front of the portrait of Thales' ancestor. He then continued his explanation. "Over 3,000 years ago, after humans realized their superpowers, many supra class and supreme class elites appeared. Their troop's combat power and equipment were also strengthened ceaselessly. Following many years of friction, war, and union, almost 2,200 years ago, humans finally coalesced into one. For several successive years, they were victorious in battles against other races. They became the rulers of the known world in the continent."
Gilbert displayed an expression of reverence and longing. His gaze drifted about as he spoke airily. "They built a gigantic nation with a surface area that extended to the whole ocean and the entire continent, almost penetrating every corner of the known land. Apart from a small number of Far Easterners, almost all humans—the Rudollians, Northlanders, Nedanese, Calunsians, and Crimson Earthlings—were under the nation's protection and rule.
"They did not give their country nor their dynasty any names. The highest ruler regarded himself as 'The Emperor'. The unprecedented country that did not have and did not need a name was known as 'The Empire'."
Thales gasped lightly. He did not feel glory nor pride in his heart, only sadness and sighs.
'War made the state, and the state made war.' He quietly added a sentence in his heart. He learned this during his past life from a great author's book. 'Coalescence and war. These words can be spoken easily. To forge an unprecedented, gigantic nation, how many battles were needed? How much blood was shed and how many massacres were involved?'
However, Gilbert's expression immediately became gloomy. "Just when the Empire had ruled for almost a thousand years, a new race, so strong they were almost terrifying, quietly emerged among the humans.
"They are immortal and cannot be destroyed, with unparalleled strength and unmatched power. The strongest among the supreme class were powerless to stand up against them, and even true Gods and demons were no match for them. To make it even scarier, they have different thought processes and rules of conduct compared to other humans, or even other races. They are impervious to reason, stubborn, insane, and hard to communicate with."
Thales froze slightly.
It was as though the crazy figure in blue robes with brown hair appeared before him again, mouth opening and closing. "The new-born Mystic made a foothold high above the Gods and watched over the other living things…"
Thales recovered his attention. He saw Gilbert heave a sigh.
"They are like calamity. Since they arrived in the world, they continuously brought about chaos and disasters, blood and massacre. Having dealt with these huge blows, the once great empire slowly declined and, in the end, perished."
'A new race? Emerged among humans? Impervious to reason? Calamity?'
Thales recalled something and his heart began beating erratically.
"During Tormond the First's era, which was the century the Empire Calendar was superseded by the Calendar of Eradication, the Empire had already perished for over three hundred years. The world where the humans and other races lived had gone back into a state of chaos and dissension.
"'The Final Empire' where Tormond lived in was only a nation built by refugees of the former nation, one which took on the name of the Empire. In terms of structure, territory and its people, it was a completely different nation. Customarily, the historians label the previous great Empire as 'the Ancient Empire' and the latter, weak Empire as 'the Final Empire'.
"In the year 1509 of the Empire Calendar, which was the year the Battle of Eradication occurred, the Final Empire was only a nation of average strength in the world. Instead of bringing them pride and legacy, the spiritual heritage and the name of the Ancient Empire became a source of burden and hatred. They became the target of ambitious, past territories—eager creatures from other races, and a plethora of greedy nations.
"Although the Final Empire inherited the Ancient Empire's glory, they made enemies everywhere and was constantly engaged in battle. Moreover, their taxes were high and internal disorder occurred for years on end. The imperial family was incompetent and governance was weak. It seemed that the glory of the Empire was about to end in the year 1509 of the Empire Calendar.
"However, on that same year, that race, along with those calamities, had bewitched a considerable amount of people around the world into becoming their believers and followers. With an unprecedented strength, they formally declared war on the all civilizations in the world."
Thales was slightly stunned. With his clear grasp of logical reasoning, he had already caught a few illogical points within the narration. However, he did not immediately point them out, and instead restrained himself.
'What exactly are the calamities? What does emerging among humans mean? Since they had such great strength, why didn't they continue working towards dominating the entire continent after they destroyed the Ancient Empire, but instead waited until the Final Empire emerged before they formally declared war?
'If they are completely impervious to reason, why did they want to recruit followers and believers like a true God?
'If their thought processes are completely different to humans, why did they want to declare war? To conquer the world? Is this a joke?
'This is basically a story full of loopholes!'
However, Thales was aware that this was not because Gilbert deliberately misled him, but because right now, there was a lot of information that Thales could not understand at all.
Just like those secrets about the Bloody Year from before.
"Those calamities," Thales gulped and asked with slight anxiety, "what are they?"
Gilbert did not find Thales' question strange. However, he did not notice that Thales' tone was less confident and steady compared to usual.
He heaved a sigh. "After the Battle of Eradication, all information and sources related to the 'calamities' were sealed and banned. This is an unspoken agreement between the Gods, demons, and humans; and also a countermeasure to prevent their numbers from increasing.
"As the years went by, the horrors of the calamities slowly faded away. The names and existences of the people who were regarded as calamities were also slowly forgotten by many people.
"However, as the king's only heir, you will have to know about all of this sooner or later."
Gilbert inhaled deeply and spoke with a severe countenance. "All those calamities were either once humans, or a member of other intelligent races. However, desire, greed, and ambition drove them to become a foreign species who had lost their innate character. Even though they are no different from us most of the time and might even be hiding among us, they are truly an entirely foreign species. According to folklore and most people, these calamities had a common name."
Gilbert cleared his throat and enunciated each syllable clearly and slowly with a severe countenance. "Mystics."
At that moment, Thales had to use all his willpower and mind to suppress his body from trembling too much.
"In their eyes, Mystics are only another category of Psionics who are seemingly equal to strong warriors like the Knights of Eradication and Psionic Warriors."
With a freezing gaze, Gilbert continued speaking, "However, only the countries and temples that participated in the Battle of Eradication know that these so-called Mystics are actually the fearsome 'calamities' that were a curse to history for thousands of years, had spilled plenty of blood on their hands, had eradicated both dynasties of The Empire, and almost destroyed the whole world.
"They will only notice that something is wrong and get a hint of the person's identity when they try to kill a Mystic. At that time, it would often be too late… because these calamities known as Mystics are immortal and indestructible."
"Young Sir," Gilbert said sternly. "In the future, if you are unfortunate enough to encounter a Mystic, you must first protect yourself. When you are safe, try to seek help… We have a method designed based on the weaknesses of Mystics that can be used to fight them."
Thales kept a straight face as he touched the wound on his left hand, but his teeth chattered slightly. Unfortunately, he had already encountered these 'calamities'.
Even though Thales' heart was filled with questions, for his own safety, he could not question Gilbert too eagerly. Who knew what he might reveal in his anxiety?
'However, this is still not right… If Mystics are such a fearsome existence, why do they have to go around contending for small gangs? Why does Constellation let their Blood Bottle Gang flourish in the kingdom?
'Another questionable point. So many questionable points.'
Gilbert paused for a moment, as though wondering why Thales did not speak nor ask any questions. However, he did not suspect much. Instead, he shut his eyes and contemplated about something, only softly speaking after a few minutes.
"There is no need to doubt their dreadfulness. These calamities are truly too strong. Over six hundred years ago, under the leadership of strong warriors, our most powerful and bravest army fought their underlings in a bloody and frenzied battle. After breaking through their outer defense line, the most skilled knights and warriors besieged those calamities, but were killed en masse in battle."
Thales thought of the play in Dark Night Temple. On stage, along the path 'calamity' walked by, the actors fell one by one.
"The Gods descended one by one upon the world and then perished. The demons rose on earth and were then destroyed. Warriors of various races went to the battlefield and were then sacrificed.
"The battle continued for many years. After paying a devastating price, we finally discovered their weaknesses and finally defeated those calamities."
Thales clenched his fist tightly. It was as though Asda's desolate words rang beside his ears, "We lost."
Gilbert's words interrupted his flashback about Asda.
"However, the strength of those accursed calamities was too outrageously frightening. In the final, decisive pursuit that surpassed the abilities of those in supreme class, those accursed calamities, those mongrels that could almost destroy the world…"
Thales, who had been carefully observing the charging Tormond, shuddered. He suddenly knew what came next in the story.
Gilbert calmly uttered the next sentence. "They sank the weakest peninsula in the center of the large continent, which connected all the peninsulas in all other directions. All the living beings and materials there were completely annihilated.
"After the peninsula sank, the residue of that power spread out, causing the entire continent to be pushed apart from each other in two different directions. Within five short years, the depths of the ocean that was formed could no longer be seen, and it tore apart the land that we knew into the Eastern and Western Peninsulas, along with a countless number of islands.
"This is the famous 'Great Crack and Sink' that happened six hundred something years ago.
"The Battle of Eradication ended like that."
Gilbert emitted a long sigh, and what he said next made Thales momentarily dazed.
"That sunken peninsula contained the entire territory of the Final Empire. And the Final Empire…
"...was put to an end."