Empyrean Blacksmith

 
 

Empyrean Blacksmith Chapter 461: World Anew


CHAPTER 461

WORLD ANEW

A calming silence permeated a small, ten by ten room decorated with a squared table full of bowls of exotic fruits. The floor beneath was adorned by a yellowish rug full of swirly patterns reminiscent of slightly distorted flowers, while the walls were painted in fresh, faint cyan. A window to the left let through blinding rays of light, casting the darkness out of the room.

Six was currently sitting in silence, mildly confused, as he pecked away at a bowl of red plums, occasionally glancing at Two who had a rather tranquil expression. Seven, sitting next to him, dabbed in a bowl of scarlet runners, while Four and Five fought over a bowl of black figs. Two had summoned them all here, jolting them from their meditations, but they were hardly surprised over the invitation - it was her state that shocked them.

Their memories of her post the Battle of Isles were mostly of a woman close to the blind insanity, yet they couldn't even find a trace of it in her. Six pondered, inwardly, whether she really managed to relinquish all her demons in less than a decade. It was certainly possible, though her state prior to it certainly suggested it would have taken longer.

"—Seven, you'll be in charge of reinstating some order in this hellhole," Two broke the silence suddenly, glancing at the expressionless woman sitting opposite of her who nodded instinctively. "Discard all the outlaws, question all those who were brutalized and either banish or execute perpetrators based on the scale. Institute free economy and open up the trade channels, create and monitor the black market under some other guise, and create a Disciplinary Branch from some of your trusted aides. I hope it's not too much work."

"… no." Seven shook her head lightly. "I'd be more than happy to."

"Four," Two then turned toward the gauzed man who withdrew from the figs, replying to the former's gaze. "You'll be in charge of forwarding reparations to the families of all those who've suffered here during our absence. In addition, form a small coalition of intelligence agents; no need to form a large-scale one, just one large enough to monitor the general movements of the Empyrean and his army."

"… yes." Four nodded, a faint glint flashing through his eyes.

"Five," Two turned to the flamboyantly-dressed and hair-colored man who smiled in response. "You'll be in charge of forming the general army. Find the Commanders and Generals, and oversee the general recruitment as well as formations of Legions. Withdraw all the associative forces from the active fields for the time being and conduct a complete investigation of their activities over the past decade. Any major misconduct is grounds of expulsion. You fine with that?"

"—of course," Five nodded, smiling. "It'll be my pleasure."

"Six," Two turned toward the old man who had a rather amusing expression. "You'll be in charge of the general repair of the Valley. Work together with Seven in her duties, but focus mostly on facilitating repairs, unifying conducts, and contacting the remaining friendlies on the outside. Maintain open channels at all times and found a team that will begin the constructions of the major teleportation arrays. We need to be able to transfer a large number of people rapidly, everywhere."

"… yes." Six nodded simply, feeling nothing else was worth saying.

"—I should have listened to you, back then," Two continued, surprising the rest. "You were being honest with me, yet my sullied pride blinded me. I still can't quite understand what came over me, if I'm being honest. Why I was so… angered. My mistakes cost us a lot, and I owe each and every one of you an apology. You aren't my subordinates. You're my friends. I had simply forgotten that."

"…"

"I will abstain from direct combat for now," Two said. "I'm still not confident in maintaining my calm if I come face to face with Lino. Though, I suspect, we're still decades away from the tail-end escalation where our involvement will become inevitable."

"—what about Gaia?" Four asked. "She'd withdrawn from us, barely maintaining contact. She'd locked herself up in the Hall of Dreamers, refusing to continue breaching the barrier."

"… I imagine she had a lot on her mind, as well as I," Two said, sighing, tapping her fingers against the desk. "My declaration of War… put a dent in a lot of our plans. One has relinquished all association with the War; he won't be helping us."

"… really?" Five frowned. "I thought he'd lunge at the chance to screw over Dan and Tyrell."

"—according to him," Two said. "He's on the brink of something huge and can't be interrupted. From the sounds of it, I imagine he doesn't expect us to win… nor to exist as a group past this war."

"…" the somewhat-light atmosphere immediately grew heavier as five pairs of shoulders slumped in a symphony.

Despite being their 'leader' of sorts, and despite Two having had many of his children, no one in the room actually knew much about the man who called himself 'One'. He was older than the rest of them - by how much they couldn't say. He'd all found them individually a long time ago, already looking a middle-aged man. Since then, he had mostly contributed to their Cultivations, to the building of the Descent, and the informational library they had. Beyond that, however, he almost never intervened directly.

The last time he did, they aren't even quite aware of what happened. Rather, they were certain only a few figures in history knew exactly what happened. For one reason or another, among all the Empyreans, even the 'Nightmare Eve', Eldon was the sole one that inspired a worldwide unease. To this day Two still recalls the only time she'd ever seen One in a state of distress, his gaze dulled. However, she never learned why. Eldon, certainly, was an enigma and a powerful Empyrean, but she'd never seen her as a threat - more a playful variable.

The Descent, however, was universally prohibited from even trying to contact the Empyrean, and were ordered to lay low and cease all their actions for the entire hundred thousand years of the 'Eldon Reign'. At the end of the reign, there were no battles, no earth-shattering arts being unleashed. There was only a singular reminder that anything even happened - the mist of the Hollow Isles shot upward like a pillar and formed a hole in the sky that led to nowhere. After that event, Eldon died. Gaia withdrew from the world for millions of years. One was nowhere to be found for even longer. Even Dangwe temporarily disbanded his little army.

It all accumulated, in the end, to the absolute trust they held in One; he had an uncanny ability of being right, however outrageous his statements may be. It was hardly clairvoyance, or a gift to see into the beyond of time - just an insane ability to distinguish the smallest variables and compound them into an outcome. It wasn't as though he was never wrong, but most of what he predicted would happen that counted… happened. If he was of the opinion that they would cease to exist past this War, it meant he either didn't think they were strong enough to win from the onset, or he knew something about the Empyrean and those around him that they didn't.

"—we need to cause insurgence soon, then," Four said. "And probe further. I can't imagine we are by any means weaker, even in discord. Then it only means we don't know one, or several, key pieces of information."

"—I imagine at least one has to do with how he killed Tatyana," Two said. "She certainly was not the sort that would be felled by a simple strike like that."

"… I understand it, though," Seven spoke out after a short silence, drawing all eyes on her. "From the get-go, we have adopted a problematic perspective - assumed Lino would be 'just another Empyrean'. We based our predictions on the previous patterns and were hardly shaken when he 'failed' to meet our expectations. Though we repeatedly adjusted for the variables, we never changed the quintessential point of it all - he's not 'just another Empyrean'. He's not even like Eldon. In a way," she said, tilting her head slightly. "Isn't he the perfect encapsulation of Chaos?"

"… hm?" Two mumbled, arching her brows.

"—tell me, in your heart of hearts, did any of you expect him to reach where he is today? Be it before or after meeting him? Be it before or after the adjustments? It is not really about us underestimating him, as I firmly believe we had a decent grasp on his strength, just lacking finite details of his Items and Arts, but about the fact that he was always like smoke. Grasped yet free. A perennial enigma. Chaos incarnate. Truth is," Seven added before others could join the conversation. "I don't believe that has anything to do with Ataxia - I think it is simply who he is. It is not that Ataxia warped him, but that he simply complimented him. Lino is unabashedly unapologetic about the way he does things, and he does them as he sees fit. He alienated all of Hell due to a few stray Devils and Demons, it was clear from the get-go he never wished to integrate with us, he all-too-readily murdered Gaia in front of the world's eyes and then smiled after the fact… none of us would have taken half the steps he took. Yet, somehow, despite all of that, he now has an Empire to his name, tens of millions of volatile, soul-loyal subjects, has the entire Dragon Race on his side, four other races of High Lords, has a beyond-impressive assortment of individuals who on their own are more than enough to found an Empire…"

"It is a classic paradox," Two said. "His journey is Chaotic in nature, he himself in Chaos-incarnate, yet the outcomes are beyond orderly. I don't, however, think he's clever enough, however clever he may be, to have planned out the entire journey. It is either Ataxia's idea or a set of coincidences."

"Whichever the case," Seven continued. "I think One's assessment runs beyond simply his 'hidden strengths and arts' we aren't familiar with. Even with them in the equation, we are still overwhelmingly stronger. Of the higher strata, there are only fifteen or so, versus our forty. Even if Lino cloned himself it wouldn't be enough. Rather than fighting it out directly, I think we should start delaying the war. Try and figure out where the abnormalities lie. He'll slip, if given time."


 
 


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