Chapter 98: A Mix of Ash and Snow
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“Gnnh! Urgh!” Evelyn struggled, however, her arms remained restrained. She pushed her body forward, but there was nary a change in her disadvantaged position.

“It’s useless,” said Amelia. “The difference in raw strength—rather, just resign. It would be easier for us both.”

“Easy for you… to say!”

Even if Evelyn could revive, the pain and suffering it takes to die, even if subdued, was never pleasant. In addition, even if Evelyn has yet to experience death in Origin, the pain she suffered from trying to rip off Amelia’s necklace was no laughing matter. Thus, Evelyn thought that the pain accompanied by death was similar if not more.

Amelia clicked her tongue.

This is… harder than I thought. In strength alone, Amelia was obviously the winner, but it did not mean she overwhelmed Evelyn to a degree of a useless struggle. In fact, Amelia was utilizing the mana surrounding her body to strengthen her hold.

Amelia’s glare wavered. Could I really shelve the consequence of doing it? Could I really handle it? Ah… this is getting out of hand.

A strain of doubt and fear swirled within Amelia’s mind. Cold sweat ran down cautiously on her back. And in each fragment of a second she held Evelyn in place, a number of possibilities worked itself in her mind.

 

I’m not… confident…

“What’s… wrong? Hesitating?” Evelyn smirked. Amelia’s lack of action gave Evelyn the idea of Amelia’s indecision. “Thanks.”

With a smile, a sword materialized just above Amelia. Then, in a split second, the sword resumed its inevitable fall.

A sharp swoosh. Then the sword stabbed.

“What’s going on there?!” A voice came from the cabin underneath. It was Darwin’s. A set of footsteps followed the slam of the cabin’s door.

“Was it intuition?” Evelyn wrapped her hand around the sword’s hilt that stabbed the floor halfway down its blade. Apparently, Amelia broke away in due time.

“Your expression of confidence was obvious.” Amelia fixed her eyes on the buried sword. For a sword to pierce that deep in a wooden deck, a considerable force or speed was required.

Holding back might not be an option now… Amelia did not see the speed of how the sword fell. However, referencing the time between Evelyn’s smirk and the sound of the blade piercing the wood, the sword was faster than an arrow.

 

Barriers won’t work. Two or three maybe for redirecting its trajectory but…

Weight. Swords weigh several times more than an arrow. With the speed and the weight of the sword, it would give a short work of even low-ranking dragons.

As Evelyn gave up on retrieving her sword, Darwin showed up with his men in tow. Apparently, all sailors were told to halt on their tracks.

“What is this?” he asked, glaring. “What nonsense is this?”

Evelyn tipped to the side as she walked, seemingly unstable in her feet. “It’s nothing of your concern.”

“I don’t need that from you.” Darwin shifted his sight to Amelia. “And? What are you two—”

A bright object took a pass in front of Darwin. In the next second, the unknown object struck the deck and exploded into flames. However, the object was not the last of its kind.

“Damned!”

The dark, snowy night was gradually decorated by flashes of reddish light. One by one, the light came down like a shooting star and came down onto the ship’s deck, bursting into a set of flames.

“Drive those flame spears away with wind! Splash water all over the deck! Cut the ropes of the mast! Fast!” Darwin roared his orders and the sailors scrambled for their and the ship’s life.

“Captain, we won’t intercept those spears?!” A sailor questioned.

 

“Are you blind?! The chances are slim! Now get your ass moving as I told!”

“Now you two!” Darwin shot a glance towards Amelia and Evelyn. “I don’t know what your situation is, but if you don’t want the ship to sink, then help!”

Amelia and Evelyn snapped out of their trance. Both knew nothing of the source of the flaming spears, but if it went on, the ship was sure to join the snow as ashes.

Amelia looked up, tracing the source of the spears. She thought it might have been forces from Laurel. However, the source of the spears was far above.

“The spears were meant to burn…” Amelia muttered. The flame spears were no foreign magic. However, the power of the spears the rained on the ship was farm from Amelia was accustomed to. “That means I lost its power since it fell from high up.”

It can’t be Laurel. It can’t be the Wyvern Knights father hoped to create. It’s too early for them to do this. And besides… I doubt Kanna wouldn’t join if she knew. And if she did… she’d undoubtedly dismiss the possibility of accidentally hitting me…

“Damn it,” Evelyn cursed. Again, Evelyn was reminded of how her abilities leaned towards offensive rather than defensive. “We’ll put this on hold—!”

 

The ship rocked, throwing the already unstable Evelyn on the floor.

“What’s with these series of bad luck.”

“You’re not the only one who wants to complain,” chimed Amelia as took a step to the side to dodge a flame spear. “If anything, the rain doesn’t seem like it will stop soon. Drench.

As the fire beside Amelia went out, the ship began to rock once more. However, the ship tilted to its port side and disrupted everyone’s balance.

Amelia frowned. “Again… There is no cry from the sea.”

“Is it that thing again?!” Exclaimed Evelyn. “I have had enough with that—whatever creature was that!”

“It isn’t a Halvsoth this time. And the force doesn’t seem to be focused… It’s not a beast for sure, but it’s definitely the waves.” The ship tilted to the side once more. “Someone’s definitely trying to flip the ship.”

“Can’t you do anything about it?!” Asked Evelyn as she steadied her feet.

“Can you?” Amelia sighed. “And if you’d focus, the spears are sporadic, but they aren’t targeted towards us. Or at least the rear. Besides… I don’t think we can fight a battle in the sky…”

Evelyn shot a glare. “You seem quite calm about this. Did you know this was coming?”

 

“Trying to assess the situation is a must for those given responsibility. Besides, the flame spears may be incessant, but they were all meant to burn. However, since the deck has been thoroughly wet due to the sailors’ efforts, it’ll be harder to catch fire.”

“You… have a point.”

“From what I can see, they are trying to exhaust everyone. The waves crashing onto the ship is… probably a scare.”

“And whose idea was it to exhaust the supplies and to force the sailors into sailing?”

“…”

The idea has backfired. Even if the ship survived the onslaught of the spears, the sailors would be undoubtedly exhausted and hungry. However, with the supplies critical, the journey could only turn for the worst.

“There’s nothing we can do about it…” Amelia knitted her brows. “And unless the culprit descends, there’s very little we can—!”

The ship jolted. Followed by a blinding flash of light, countless chips of wood burst from the mizzen mast.

 

“A… lightning strike?” Amelia muttered, astounded.

The mast clacked. It crackled. Within the smears of burnt wood were flames. The lightning seemed to have lit the pith and the heartwood aflame, the interior of the mast. Not long after, the clacks grew louder. And not long, the mast tilted and eventually struck the gunwale on the starboard side, bringing gaff and all into the sea.

“Cole!” A familiar voice shook the snow-filled, ash-filled night.

As Amelia’s and Evelyn’s feet brought them to the rails, they saw a pitch-black body laid down on the deck.

“Whoa. It’s… smoking.” Evelyn muttered, sweating beading on her skin.

On the other hand, Amelia’s face expressed uncertainty. Was it still a scare? Was her conjecture wrong? No matter the answer, there was one fact. Amelia was losing confidence.

“All of you! Stay away from the masts! Forget about the sails! Prioritize your life!” His lip bleeding, Darwin roared. A few men were injured by the flame spears, but Cole was the first casualty. “God damned!”

Darwin cursed. He shouldn’t have accepted the Lord’s request. Although he knew it was inevitable to see his comrades’ death, he wanted it to be caused by sickness or old age. It was the least he could hope for.

 

“Hey. We’re doing nothing. Literally.” Evelyn said. “Can you stomach this?”

“Like you, defending on a large scale is not my forte. And besides, could you even defend from something like a lightning strike?” Amelia frowned. “Something like that is beyond me. And if you’re expecting something because I’m different, then your train of thought is mistaken. I’m probably not as omnipotent as you may have thought. But still…”

Amelia looked up and silently chanted farsight and scope, a general magic used for embedding intricate magic circles of the advanced level or higher.

“White hair.”

Farsight and scope barely managed to draw the culprit’s figure. Around the man were several flame spears shaping up. Above him was an unknown whitish object.

Amelia gulped. Although she was relieved there were no thunderclouds forming, just like how Amalthea did before, the white object drew her attention.

 

“A white-haired man is floating. Above him is a whitish object. I’m quite unsure of what it is.” Amelia muttered. “Do you have any idea? Anything is fine, even if it’s ridiculous.”

“I can’t tell what is unless I see it for myself. But floating huh. Can’t you do that too?”

“What? Do you think I have wings or such?”

“Well, you have a horn. I thought you were a dragonewt or something similar.”

“Do I look like I have a tail to you?”

“Who knows? You might be a rare type of one. Something like a variant species.”

“Enough with that. I need ideas.” Amelia sighed. “Seeing people suffer is not my cup of tea.”

Unless if it’s them. Amelia added.

“It’s growing…”

“Ugh… if it’s white, the only thing that resembles around here is…” Evelyn raised her palm and caught a flake. “Snow.”

“…” Amelia canceled her magic and shifted her sight towards Evelyn.

 

“W-what’s with that face?” Surprised by Amelia’s expression of surprise, Evelyn stuttered. “What? I just said what first came to mind.”

As soon as Evelyn finished speaking, Amelia leaned on the railing and shouted. “All of you! Jump to the sea! Now!”

Amelia pushed herself to a jump and landed on the quarter-deck with a splash. Making a pass on whomever, she repeated her orders. Then, as she reached the bow, she turned around and shouted once more. “Please believe me!”

Amelia’s efforts were met with sour expressions. It was inevitable. They did not manage to help the sailors during the first few waves of flame spears.

“The night is cold, missy. So is the sea. The snow falling from the sky is a testament of this.” A sailor exclaimed.

“There’s no time!” Steadily, Amelia climbed the bowsprit. “Or at least, stick to the gunwales!”

“What is it now?” Darwin left Cole’s body.

“I’m trying to help.”

 

Darwin clicked his tongue. “You’ve put us in a miserable situation. Do you think everyone here wouldn’t doubt you?”

“I don’t regret what I did,” Amelia replied. “But this and that are different. The life to the sailors here is what’s important. And you are to decide what makes out their lives.”

Darwin grit his teeth. He then walked towards port side gunwale on the main deck and told everyone to do the same. However, before everyone could reach the gunwales around the ship, the main mast snapped like a twig. What followed was the sight of bodies lifted high up in the air and ship pierced and bent in two.

It was a giant block of ice. A tip of an iceberg. With the help of nothing but gravity, the ice crushed the ship and left nothing but the roaring waves.

 


 

His name whom he could not remember bit the tip of his thumb. Clicking his tongue, kicking away with his feet, his expressions switched between anger and bewilderment.

“Ghhhh!” He looked beyond his feet but only discovered a crater. To be exact, the crater of the inactive volcano of Surtur. It had been a few days since his manipulation of the Halvsoth, which failed. However, since that day, he kept a close eye on both Amelia and Evelyn.

He had a conjecture, but it couldn’t quite fit. Or to be exact, most of his presumptions were filled by his own knowledge. It was not exactly a good idea, but given his limited knowledge, he was forced to do so.

Did anything happen these past few months?

The man had been busy planning. The time he spent to drive off Meiko and the time he spent observing Evelyn, Charles, and Clark took most of it. And although he failed to eliminate Meiko discretely, he had gathered a hefty amount of information regarding the other three. Knowledge is, after all, a weapon.

The downside, however, was his inability to analyze the situation on the other kingdoms. Though not inexistent, it was at a level that most nobility would have heard.

 

Let’s see… Brent was preparing for war. They took in refugees. The same was true with Laurel. Laurel and Brent struck a deal for supplies and support. Academia held its first annual allocation. A forest in Laurel burned down. Right, it was related to a poisoning initiated due to Meiko’s presence. Then, the same priest who attended the diplomatic talks was found battered by mercenaries that the second-responsible took lead of the town—or was it a city? Whatever, it’s of no concern.

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, the man thought. Among the events, it was not a surprise for Laurel and Libet to be at their toes. If anything, he expected one side or the other would initiate an attack. The situation between Laurel and Libet could be described as a boiling pot of water.

If there’s anything out of the ordinary, it’s the communication with the Fairies. Even the northern tribe and the beastmen of the west lost contact. And that horn… that horn… it’s stuck in my mind. I think I remember, but I can’t completely recall.

The man ruffled his white hair. A hoof on his feet struck a nearby rock and sent it flying.

The man was no Divine. He was no direct servant of a God. However, his class categorized him among the Ancients. Compared to the Angels, he was at least as strong as a Seraphim, the fifth among the ten ranks of angels. However, compared to a Divine which did not rely on numbers, the difference was like wood and steel.

The Fairies plays a role in the war. I can’t see them leaving without executing their plan, or whatever they call a prank. After all, those collars are widely spread. They won’t let the opportunity to use them go.

 

Divines were, for better or for worse, were not allowed to directly intervene with the others. However, indirectly, say a zealot of the Divine’s belief, could act on the behalf of the Divine through teachings and advice. Since, if the servant of the Divine willed it themselves, then they were considered outside the Divine’s direct intervention. It was a gray area. Perhaps a loophole.

I still find that rule useless. It doesn’t prevent the races from waging war. The only merit is the delay. Or was that delay the main goal of the Overseer?

The man froze. His mind halted to come into a realization. A flash of memories ran through his mind and replayed like a scene.

The Overseer. The Head Overseer. That arrogant deer. She was the youngest of all Divines, but she believes she rules above all.

There were variants of deer all around Origin, ranging from plain to mythical. However, there was one unique deer that was etched among all Divines. A deer well-known even to Ancients despite the lack of personal contact. The same deer that represented Origin’s sole moon.

 

Celestia… The only horns who bore those petals. That girl’s… were buds. But I’m sure of it. It may be one horn, but it’s roughly similar. The light it gives. The presence it emanates. It’s all… similar…

The man shuddered. What would the Divines do? How would the Divines react if another being similar to Celestia was born?

It’s bound to be chaotic… The Divines would revoke their participation on the Assembly. Origin will plunge back to its dark ages. No, it might not immediately, but depending on whether that girl really is on the level of Celestia or not will decide things. Still… I can’t imagine a moon born from a moon.

It’s impossible. Only the Gods can recreate a being like Celestia. She wasn’t created to pass down her abilities. No, wait. She declared once to not force her kin to develop. Right! It was back then! In order for the situation to continue as is, despite the possibility of another Celestia being born, the Divines agreed to avoid contact with her kin!

Celestia’s declaration, for Laurel, a blessing in disguise.

Celestia may play as the leader, but she had not once broken her words. Sure, she does those annoying play of words in order to trick idiots into her bidding, but she does what she says.

Color drained from the man’s skin.

 

But what if someone broke that declaration? Sweat forming around his back felt prickly spikes of ice. I can’t imagine it. In a one on one battle, none of the Divines could straight-up win. And not once in my life I have seen her angered. However, I’m sure none of the wise Divines would want to trigger her anger… Unless someone did and… vanished without a trace.

For the man, it sounded unlikely. Only fools among fools would try to create another being like Celestia. And even a greater fool to get into Celestia’s bad side. However,

There are candidates…

True enough, fools can be found no matter what world or timeline.

Titania… they have brought those collars to use. What if… they made one specialized for Celestia’s kin? If it was put under control, would Celestia eliminate it? Would Celestia keel over and obey the wishes of the kin’s master? But if it failed… I doubt Titania is dead…

Fairies were well known among Divines. They were popular figures that teetered between one race to another. Sometimes an ally, sometimes an enemy.

 

And if it failed… a developed kin would be on the loose. But why? Why hasn’t Celestia announced this? There is something missing. But if I’d trace it back to when the communications with the Fairies were lost… then move it back a month… the closest event is Niveria’s fall. The summoning of the Heroes. Movements from the west of Randia. The desert surge. Battles underneath the sea. Reconciliation of Laurel’s pact. Among those, only the pact relates to the girl. If I were to assume that as the start of everything then… the explosion in Libet is related. The beasts they were trying to keep broke through due to an explosion, so they had to clean it up before the Heroes caught wind of it.

The man shook his head. “That’s not it.”

Related to that explosion was the priest declared by that girl as the culprit on the poisoning. But now that I recall it, that man was a disguised Angel. He may have not been as powerful as Ancients, but he is still formidable. However, facing a kin of Celestia… I’ll put my bet on the girl.

And if the girl won… that Angel would have been dead. He too would have realized that the girl was Celestia’s kin! But he did nothing! He announced nothing! For an Angel to do such! It’s unthinkable! They were meant to be legion that passed information to another! It wouldn’t have been possible! Unless… Celestia had a hand on it…

A moment of silence drifted its way to the man. As remained unmoving, the snow began to fall.

“Unless… Celestia had a hand on it…” He muttered. “But if the girl defeated the priest, who is that priest? Celestia’s illusion? But it’s quite… real.”

 

Even the man who could see through Amelia’s illusions, could not look beyond Celestia’s. It was a poor comparison.

“But why?”

The question returned to why Celestia kept her mouth shut.

The man grimaced. Of all the built-up he managed to conjure, his thought stopped. There were no more shreds of evidence that could support a conjecture. Even more, if it was Celestia’s personal reason.

“Nonetheless,” The man cracked a smile. “In two months and several days, Raziel will return. Sure enough by then, Celestia would dispel her trick. And most probably—ahahaha!”

The man laughed. He embraced his stomach and kicked his feet around, scraping the ground with his hooves.

“What joy! What opportunity! I could not ask for more!”

The man tumbled on the ground and rolled out of laughter.

“I can’t believe this! I can’t believe a day that I will thank the Overseer! Have the world turned?! Surely it has! The tables have surely turned!”

 

It took a while before the man finished with traces of tears around his eyes.

“Oh, Celestia. I will surely keep this secret until you decided to reveal it. However, I will indulge myself in this secret. It isn’t wrong, no? I am not forcing her to develop, no? After all, the Fairies had already done that. This doesn’t count anymore, right?”

The man chuckled.

“Now to pay a visit to my dark horse.”

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