Chapter 155: Universal Truths

As Maru turned back inside the deserted great fortress, one harpy and one human stood tall by the Southern wall of the great stone-kingdom, looking at Lilia’s departing figure and at Maru’s desolate back.

“He seems saddened…” → Sara

Sara observed with a worried expression on her face. Her short and blue hair was now longer while her always calm but sad eyes now exhumed a composed and peaceful feeling. Beside her, a tall man with a broad back said in a deep but calm tone.

“A great weight is now resting on his shoulders, afraid of confessing about his choices.” → Andrew

With new scars covering his arms while on his back a chipped and long sword was now resting, Andrew stood tall with his arms crossed to his chest. Hearing his words, Sara asked while slowly looking upwards at him.

“What about you…? Has this weight lessened for at least a little bit?” → Sara

Andrew slightly smiled then carefully played with her long hair beside the ear, a calm expression taking over his normally stern or indifferent face.

“I am fine… Because of you, I was finally able to let go of the past and go onwards.” → Andrew

She then reached out with her wing and pushed his palm toward her cheek, resting her head on his great palm.

“You did the same for me. I never thought that by trying to save you, I will also save myself.” → Sara
“Yeah, It seems that that’s how life works…” → Andrew

Unable to hold himself back any longer, Andrew closed his face to hers while he lifted hers slowly. Just as they were about to touch lips-

“Oh, my~?” → Gerome
“T-they wanna kiss? They wanna kiss, right?!”
“Eww~! No! Why would Lord Andrew do that?!”
“Maybe Miss Sara just had an eyelash in her eye?”

The surprised voice of an old man resounded, then right after followed by more childish voices.

Andrew and Sara turned around and saw Gerome with a group of children staring at the two of them with either blushing faces, confused eyes, or disgusted expressions. The kids were no older than 11 years and all of them were from the two groups brought by Andrew and Sara. Having a group of around 20 children stare at them with either sparkling, confused, or disgusted expressions on, the two were unable to continue what they started as they stopped, Andrew with a rather annoyed expression while Sara with a more amused one.

“Mister Gerome, how come you’re here? And with so many children?” → Sara

Sara asked while welcoming the children and being greeted back in high spirit.

“Ohohoho~ well. I thought of taking a break today from studying and just give them a stroll around these parts of the kingdom. This place being so new, even I am not that sure which road goes where hohoho~.” → Gerome

Gerome laughed merely and the children started laughing simply because of his laughter. With a complicated gaze, Andrew observed his merry face and asked Sara if she couldn’t take Gerome’s place for a moment in taking care of the children until he talked with him for a  moment. Sara nodded with an understanding glint in her eyes and walked toward the children with a wide smile on her face.

“Hello there, children~. Today I’ll give you lot a tour of the walls. You might or might not know it, but from this place, you have the best view toward the inside and outside the kingdom’s walls! While at it, maybe we could also visit the defensive towers~.” → Sara
“I wanna come!”
“Me too!”
“Me three!”

More and more children then flowed Sara suit, leaving Andrew and Gerome on their own. Seeing her so energetically take them all away, Gerome instantly understood what the two wished to do. He then asked calmly, looking at Andrew with a sincere smile.

“So? What do you wish to talk about?” → Gerome

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Without beating around the bush, Andrew asked such:

“Old man, are you fine?” → Andrew

Worry flashed through his eyes as Gerome smiled again, this time with a more saddened smile on his face.

“Are you talking about Tama…?” → Gerome
“Yes…” → Andrew


“Have you seen her grave?” → Gerome
“…Yes. Both Sara and I have seen it… Sara especially wept one full hour beside Tama’s tree… And I bet you must’ve suffered, even more, old man.” → Andrew

Andrew clenched his fists in frustration. He couldn’t help but blame himself for not being here when the demonic beasts struck. When he saw the great stone-shield as a memorial and all those trees with the small tombstone beside them, Andrew was unable to keep his composure, clenching his fists hard enough to bleed, while his entire body trembled from sorrow and frustration.

“Stop thinking about it, Andrew. With one or two people more, there would’ve been no greater difference… Just like how the stars cannot be rewritten, the past cannot be changed.” → Gerome

A simple smile appeared on his face while Andrew’s eyes widened in shock. He was able to read immense sadness and sorrow in Gerome’s eyes, but he was also able to read acceptance and inner peace. With a dry voice, Andrew said while shaking his head amazed.

“Old man… You are truly strong…” → Andrew
“Hahaha~ wrong my friend… I am truly a fool. Not strong.” → Gerome
“Then I’ll surely seek to become this fool as well. To have such strength like you, sir. Not many would have remained sane. Not many would have kept on smiling as you do.” → Andrew
“… Then may you reach this strength you speak of, without suffering as I did, Andrew. Protect what you love, but protect yourself as well, or your loved ones might be as foolish as you and do it in your place…” → Gerome
“…Understood… Friend.” → Andrew

They smiled at one another then looked in the distance at the cafeteria which was now bursting with laughter and music.

“What you say? Shall we go for a drink?” → Andrew
“After Miss Sara returns with the children and I’ll walk them back to school, It would be my pleasure.” → Gerome
“It’s a promise then.” → Andrew

Afterward, the two of them continued toward the group of children that played around inside the defensive towers, looking around and even climbing them as they wished, Sara simply telling them to not fall.


While the residents of Antara moved all their belongings from the smaller and improvised kingdom to the one created out of mountains, and after passing Sir Alexander to Sylvia for the next part of the plan, Ryu entered through a secret chamber which stairs that continued downwards inside a deep abyss. After continuously walking down the stairs then continuing forward through a tunnel for more than five minutes, Ryu finally reached the exit which sent him on the tip of a mountain, everywhere around being visible a green and lively forest with tall and imposing mountains, a blue sky covering the view as far as the eyes could see. This place was exactly the separate space I conquered after defeating Umbra. The image was completely different from what Ryu remembered. The burning Hell turned into a green and flourishing natural paradise, giving a feeling of relaxation to anyone who entered this place.

[I see you thought of visiting us.]

The deep and powerful voice of a dragon resounded from atop the neighboring mountain.

“Yes, master. I’m here to start my training.” → Ryu

Ryu turned around toward the gigantic red dragon atop the mountain then bowed respectfully.

[Oh~? Ryu, you’re here!]

“Sir Ryu! Have you got any news from our master?” → Melinda / Theo

Right at the front feet of the great Ignatius, Melinda and Theo woke up from their deep meditation and greeted Ryu in high spirit.

[You two. Back to meditating. A true mage shall never let their surroundings disturb their concentration.]

”Ye~sh.”

Both of them answered back and sat back down, trying to enter into a trance once again.

“It seems they got used to master’s aura?” → Ryu

[They never feared me. Shen’s devil-aura seems to be on another level… I fought devils and gods before, but only some made others freeze in fear only from their aura alone.]

“Only some? Was there a difference?” → Ryu

[Yes. Devils, just like gods, have one or more essences from which they extract their powers. Just like how Hamata is a goddess that extracts her strength from love, there are other gods or devils which extracts their powers from other such essences. And by the aura emanating from the Golden Soul, that devil must contain the essences of Fear and Rage. By how everyone reacts beside him, I could say that the essence of Fear is much richer at the base.]

“I see…” → Ryu

Ryu finally understood some more things, then suddenly Ignatius’ appearance changed: at first, his great body became smaller and smaller, then his scales slowly disappeared, royal red clothes took their place as to cover his now humanoid body. A long red hair appeared on his head, growing backward in a stylish manner, while a well-cut beard with mustache covered his chin and mouth. His posture tall and straight, while firm and subtle muscles were visible even through the clothes. His eyes golden while his skin tanned, Ignatius now appeared like a more evolved form of a dragoon, just like Ryu with two small wings behind and sharp red nails. Ryu looked dazed at his transformation, remembering that when he first appeared in front of his Northern gate for the first time, he thought that he might’ve been some great general or count of the neighboring kingdoms.

Luckily enough… he did contact me through telepathy first… → Ryu

When Ignatius arrived, the first thing the two of them had to do was to analyze the place where Thanatos has been defeated. After the few weeks that passed since the moment, they sealed the Dragon of Darkness and Chaos, the magic circle which represented the seal was now hidden deep under the sand. Everything has been destroyed after that battle as only sand remained around, while a pool of lava right in the middle of it all still burnt and mocked on the surface. Ignatius was able to easily locate the seal and place a great boulder atop of it, then enhance the boulder so the seal could be protected from all and any influences, man-made or natural that might weaken the seal. However, what surprised Ryu the most was the fact that the stone started to sculpt itself as Thanatos, showing just who was sealed under it. After Ryu asked Ignatius about what just happened, he said anything that’s placed atop a magic seal of an entity of Elder God and above, the aura alone will influence whatever is atop of it, this time making the stone take the form of the one sealed.

Although this sounded dangerous, Ryu thought to himself that it would be a good idea to create a fortress around this place just so the seal will stay isolated for anyone unaware of the dangers.

After Ryu flew to another tip of a mountain, leaving Theo and Melinda to meditate on themselves, Ignatius also teleported right beside him and said such.

[Now, your training remains the same: Try to transform into a complete dragon then back into a human as fast as possible.]

Ryu then made a complicated face as he scratched his head.

“Master. Just how am I supposed to do such? I can at most transform after 5 minutes of accumulating power. Turning back into dragoon isn’t that hard, having only to let the primordial energy leave my body.” → Ryu

Ignatius then shook his head and said such:

[And here is where you’re mistaken, young dragon. You mustn’t transform into our race by using the power of the primordials, but by using your own power that now, through my blood, resides in your genes. Using the energy of the primordials only gives you a fake body, with fake organs, and a fake power that is anything but like those of a dragon.]

“T-then what should I do? How should I turn into a dragon? I have no idea how to activate the genes of a dragon.” → Ryu

And maybe this is also the reason why I’m stuck at 70% of absorbing Ignatius’ power… → Ryu

Ignatius then smiled slightly and asked:

[Little dragon, how do you think I have turned into a dragoon? Keeping into consideration that my birth was from the depth of the volcanoes, from the purest element of fire and earth under the full moon.]

“Eh? From the depth of a volcano?” → Ryu

[Yes. Royal dragons like myself are born through the union of Mother Nature with the King of the Elements. We are guardians of Nature and of the natural laws themselves. The other dragons are born through the union of the royal dragons, giving such birth to a normal Dragon of an inferior breed. Even so, through this union, not rarely are there chances for a great royal dragon to be born. And such royal dragons can also be born through the union of a dragon with any other race.]

“R-really?!” → Ryu

[Yes. But now back to the subject. How do you think I, as a true dragon, am able to turn into a dragoon without using magic?]

“W-what? With no magic?! Wait master, I wasn’t aware of that.” → Ryu

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Ryu stared baffled and Ignatius smiled again, explaining word by word with utmost care.

[Listen well, young one. We dragons are born with the knowledge of many truths you of the races are not even suspecting that might exist. By being based on truth, one can create, modify, and destroy the world as we see it without necessarily entering in conflict with the Universal Law.]

“W-wow…” → Ryu

Ryu already felt like something above his level of understanding will soon be told, bracing his neurons to work at maximum capacity.

[And such, based on such truth, we dragons have the power to turn not only into a human but on any other living form we saw or know of.]

Right after saying such, Ignatius leaped high in the sky and with a light he turned into a great Phoenix, flapping his fiery wings above the mountains but without burning the crown of the great trees around. Ryu looked completely baffled at his master that was now a Phoenix, flying around freely in the skies. Then Ryu was even more so after Ignatius retracted his wings and fell toward the ground, turning once again into light then taking the form of another legendary beast: The wings and claws turned into huge pawns with sharp claws. The peak turned into a mouth filled with sharp teeth and long canines, while the feathers turned into a golden and lustrous fur. At this moment Ignatius turned into a great Lion, as tall as half a tree from Sario, with claws sharper than any sword from [Heroic] downward, while every little growl making the earth itself to rumble and shake.

“C-can master turn into anything?” → Ryu

[Anything.]

The lion growled and the trees around vibrated. Afterward, Ignatius turned back, but this time he was completely human: no wings, no horns, no sharp nails or even the characteristic tanned skin. But a strong-looking old human with brown hair and blue eyes.

[Be it race, type, or gender. We can turn into anything and also turn others into anything.]

“Eh?” → Ryu

Suddenly Ryu felt like the difference in height between the two changed all of a sudden. He stared at his own hands… or rather, claws now, and observed that he turned into a Dragon without him even knowing when.

“W-what?! How?!” → Ryu

There was no pain, nor any feeling of having my body suddenly stretch, nor any feeling of dizziness or sudden scorching heat inside my chest! B-but how?! Just what happened?! → Ryu

His deep and rushed voice made the crown of the trees to shake as the sudden transformation made him unable to control his tail all that well, striking the ground and the trees around at random. Everything seemed much more real than when he transformed by using the primordial power, being almost overwhelmed by it.

T-this is amazing! → Ryu

[Alright. Now it’s your turn.]

With a wave of his hand, Ignatius turned Ryu back into a dragoon as he himself turned into the same race, bewildering Ryu over and over again.

“W-wait, you still didn’t explain to me how to do this!” → Ryu

[Oh? But did you not understand after I have shown you this much already? I thought this truth is the easiest to understand for any mortal.]

“With all my respect, master. You told me nothing about how I can turn into a dragon, let alone into any other shape. And simply showing me won’t make me able to even understand what this truth is about in the first place.” → Ryu

[Hmm… Alright, then what you must know about this truth is that, races, forms, the flesh. Everything is but an illusion.]

“………..What?” → Ryu

Ryu froze in place as he stared at master Ignatius, completely confused and bewildered. Hearing the question, Ignatius repeated with a calm tone.

[All and everything around you is but an illusion, yet at the same time, not a lie but a truth. This world, together with other many other worlds have been built to help the souls to advance. Everything we see, hear, feel, live; It’s all but an illusion in where mortals engulfed by “life”, dance like blind dolls for other spirits, either neutral or evil, to amuse or to feed them by exhuming energy through emotions.]

“Okay, stop!” → Ryu

Unable to hear anymore, Ryu crouched and covered his ears, feeling his heartbeat rush and his forehead sweat. Ignatius was somewhat perplexed by his reaction, taking step after step toward the desperate Ryu.

Is his power of acceptance still not on par with my expectations? Sigh~ maybe his powers are those of a dragon, but his mental strength is yet to reach the standards. → Ryu

As Ignatius got closer, Ryu’s mind swirled and twisted, dark thoughts covering his judgment by the second.

Reality… is an illusion? Does nothing exist?! T-then what am I fighting for? For what have I and Shen sacrificed so much?! T-then just what should I do from now on? Just what’s the meaning of everything?! → Ryu

[Young Dragon.]

“Eh?” → Ryu

Suddenly, Ignatius’ calm voice resounded from right in front of him. Just as he looked upwards, Ignatius touched his chest and a strong shockwave sent Ryu flying, crashing through another mountain near them then falling like a projectile inside the forest from the other side.

-BOOM!-

Although uninjured, dizziness washed over him as he made one step after the other with quite the difficulty, trying to get out from the wide crater he just created. Ignatius then appeared before him while slowly levitating, his appearance royal and godly.

“M-master…?” → Ryu

Ryu looked confused at Ignatius, confused as for why he was sent flying through a mountain. Seeing his perplexed eyes, Ignatius answered calmly.

[You fell into chaos, young dragon.]

“C-chaos? How?!” → Ryu

[Reaching a truth means touching the Universal System created by the All-Father, the creator of the Universal Law.]

“W-wait… what? Y-you mean that by knowing the truth I automatically reach God… or something like that?” → Ryu

[Indeed.]

“Then why do I fall into chaos?!” → Ryu

At his question, Ignatius smiled lightly then continued.

[To fall into chaos means to doubt the truth, or to believe it halfway.]

“H-halfway?” → Ryu

[Indeed. You believed that this reality is an illusion, but you didn’t hear when I said that this illusion is for the souls to advance. You heard the fact that the souls are dancing for other evil or neutral spirits, but didn’t hear the fact that we give them what they want, only by succumbing to our own emotions.]

“W-what? So you mean to say that, as long as we don’t get washed away by our own emotions, then we can live this illusion in a rather beneficial form?” → Ryu

[Indeed.]

“Just how does that works?” → Ryu

Still confused, Ryu continued to ask about one truth which could help him turn into a true dragon.

[I feel the power of Wrath inside you, little dragon. Have you, perhaps, accepted the power of a devil?]

“Devil?… So the Seven Deadly Sins are also considered to be Devils?” → Ryu

[Oh but of course. They will infuse the mortals with their essence, only to cultivate them inside their souls and absorb it back now in larger quantities than what they sent initially. It’s what you mortals call investing, but rather than money, they invest energy. Pure energy that then is turned into emotions which, after reaching a certain point of bursting, they will absorb it back, consuming the mortals of their vital energy.]

“… So what I should do then? Lock my heart away? Shen already does that but I don’t see him any better.” → Ryu

[Wrong. Locking your emotions would turn one into nothing but a golem. A being which learned nothing but just how to stop the flow of emotions.]

“Then what should I do to stop this investment of the devils?” → Ryu

[It’s simple: Calm your heart and let the emotions flow through your soul, just like how the rays of light go through a crystal-clear glass, while the energy that was supposed to cultivate the respective emotions will now be reabsorbed by the body and spirit, making them only grow stronger. By stopping the emotions from flowing, your judgment will darken while your heart would turn to stone. Feeling the emotions but choosing which to cultivate, this is the true wisdom of gods. And we, as beings closed to gods, have the duty to reach such control over ourselves through a strong and righteous discipline.]

“… I-I think I understood… more or less….” → Ryu

[Sigh~… I ended up explaining another smaller truth which I thought it was already obvious, especially for someone who is using the power of a devil for his own good.]

“W-well…” → Ryu

Ignatius sighed dejectedly while Ryu scratched his head embarrassed, not knowing how to answer that. Then Ignatius shook his head and continued.

[Now… That we finally understand about the fact that we should first control our emotions before learning about a major truth-]

At his words, Ryu felt some guilt as he evaded eye contact while Ignatius continued without giving it too much mind.

[Let’s now continue from where we left. Now that we understood that everything is just an illusion, just a fake in which we’re living to gain experience about what living means, we can also think about this illusion, or this reality, as being something controllable and malleable for the soul.]
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