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Chapter 346 - Dragon Lord (3)

    Chapter 346 - Dragon Lord (3)

    Theodore couldn't understand the meaning of Geros' words. However, he soon realized that the ancient elemental didn't want them to understand. Geros was just delivering words that Prometheus had left behind in the distant past. After saying the words, Geros' body blurred.

    In spite of her great confusion, Titania tried to maintain the summoning. However, despite her efforts, Geros disappeared after delivering the 'key.'

    "Geros," Titania muttered blankly as she stared at the empty space.

    The ancient elemental that had been with her for maybe dozens of years had a strange story she didn't know about. So, it was natural for her to be shocked. Theodore approached Titania and asked cautiously, "What happened? Why is the ancient elemental you signed with acting like this?"

    "I don't know. I tried to summon him again, but he isn't responding to my words. It is as if he is sleeping."

    "Titania, if it isn't something you ordered, then it must be an arrangement left behind by the previous contractor..."

    Theodore was referring to the former contractor of the ancient elemental Geros, Myrdal Herseim. Clipeus watched the conversation between the two people and stepped forward. It was unknown what clues were found in their conversation, but it was time to move on.

    [Gluttony and Theodore Miller. It looks like the situation has changed. Can you look over there?]

    "What..." Theodore looked in the direction that Clipeus pointed, and his expression stiffened.

    It was because there was a single crack at the center of the Cage of Chronos where Sloth was located. Although it was difficult to get a sense of the size from this distance, it seemed wide enough to accommodate one or two human-sized creatures.

    This was the only way to pass through the darkness.

    'No, really?' Theodore couldn't accept his intuition. 'If that passage is a trap, we will be putting our heads in the tiger's mouth. It is hard to move on the outskirts of the time stagnation. Moreover, with the influence in the center...'

    There was no way to escape, even for Theodore who could use space magic reasonably well. Strictly speaking, time manipulation corresponded to the upper levels of space manipulation. The possibility of escaping from a region with time stagnation was close to zero.

    Even the dragons would inevitably hesitate.

    ...Except for one being-the dragon lord.

    [Go inside.]

    "Lord! You don't know what threat might dwell in there!"

    [Your words are reasonable, Brasmati. But this threat is the reason why I have appeared in this material world.]

    "Perhaps the passage itself is a trap?"

    [Well, I don't think so. Isn't that right? Theodore Miller.]

    Theodore smiled bitterly since he had come to the same conclusion. "...We can enter or don't enter. This means that our choice isn't important. Whatever we choose, things will happen. It isn't any safer staying here."

    [I think so as well. However, we have to assume the worst situation in case we are wrong,] Clipeus added a few things to Theodore's words. [Sword master, you stay here. Your Aura Ability can unnecessarily stimulate time and space.]

    "..." Randolph was dissatisfied with the instructions, but Theodore nodded in agreement.

    'Acceleration' and 'Time Stagnation' were opposing forces, so they could cause some backlash. Randolph simply didn't have a chance to win against Sloth, who had killed over a dozen transcendents.

    Clipeus' words didn't end there. [Erucus, Aquilo. You remain here as well. If Brasmati and I don't come back, you must preserve the dragon species.]

    "B-But Lord!"

    [I won't tolerate any objections.]

    The dragon lord's command was absolute. Erucus, who was about to raise objections, immediately closed his mouth. Then Clipeus turned to Titania. She was a high elf who brought great grace to this material world, and Clipeus wanted her to stay here if possible.

    "I respect your authority, but I will go with Theodore." Titania had decided that the moment Myrdal's name had emerged. "My teacher might be in there. I came to this swamp in order to meet him."

    [...It can't be helped. I respect your decision, child of the Arv. Brasmati and I, along with you and Theodore Miller, the four of us will enter.]

    *     *     *

    Thus, an expedition was formed. It was an expedition consisting of one human, one high elf, and two dragons, which would be unprecedented in any age. Dragon Lord Clipeus took the lead, followed by the other three. Just like how it had been seen from afar, the path was narrow. It was barely enough for two adults to pass through, so it was impossible for the two dragons to change into dragon form.

    "There is a gap, but it is pretty dark inside."

    They were surrounded by an unknown darkness. Theodore summoned a ball of light and looked around. Light magic spread out before them, but the light failed to come back. The landscape where the light disappeared was even more mysterious. Even Brasmati, who was accustomed to ancient mysteries, found it mysterious.

    "This is an unpleasant space. Both light and heat are stopped. It is no wonder that idiot Galatea was caught."

    "Galatea?" Theodore questioned the name.

    Brasmati replied, "An earth dragon who became an adult 800 years ago. She entered the darkness without waiting for the lord. Now, she is somewhere in this darkness."

    [I wish it was just falling asleep...] Clipeus read the hope in Brasmati's voice and muttered with a long sigh. [Maybe I can relieve her pain.]

    Time was more powerful than anything else. An elf who lived for hundreds of years and a dragon who lived for tens of thousands of years were nothing in front of time. It might be temporary, but a spirit crushed by eternity would be ruined to the point where it couldn't return to its original state.

    Shadows filled Brasmati's face, but no one could comfort him. So, they moved on. Shortly afterward, the party reached their goal. The four people could move no further down the passage, and a space where time moved normally greeted them. No, it was more appropriate to call it an empty space.

    If the darkness of Time Stagnation was water that filled an aquarium, then this space was an air bubble. It was proof that the power of Sloth wasn't functioning properly. The space which had been created by artificial means would collapse in 30 minutes.

    An old man was sitting in an armchair in the middle. They couldn't see his face because he was turned away, but his white hair and wrinkles were impressive. However, this was a space that shouldn't exist. Brasmati guarded Clipeus while Theodore and Titania moved forward, but the two of them didn't try to fight the old man.

    Once both of them neared, Titania called out before Theodore, "...Teacher?"

    The old man sitting comfortably in the chair replied, "Finally, the time has come."

    He turned around. With a beard that flowed down like hair and eyes that contained deep depths which anyone who saw it couldn't forget...

    Titania's and Theodore's eyes opened wider. As expected, he really was inside. It was the greatest elementalist of the century, Myrdal Herseim!

    "It has been a long time," Myrdal continued without caring about their reaction. "I have been waiting so many years for just today... in order to turn off the fire of this age and change my life into a handful of ashes."

    "T-Teacher?"

    As all types of emotions crossed Titania's face, Myrdal looked at Theodore's left hand with a grim expression.

    "Do you understand the plan now, Gluttony?"

    In response, a hole opened on the left palm, and Gluttony replied, -I see. You... Did you make a deal with Sloth?

    "Yes."

    -You used your brain quite well. You are the first to deceive Sloth in such a way, Myrdal Herseim. No, should I call you Prometheus's avatar?

    The two beings didn't waste time.

    "Call me Myrdal. Now that I've finished my last work, I am no longer Prometheus' avatar."

    -Hah, I see. How much time? When is your end?

    Myrdal listened to Gluttony's words distractedly while also looking at Titania. "In the next 15 minutes or so. I can leave my goodbyes."

    Emotions appeared on his expressionless mask. The old man emerged and smiled softly. "It has been a while, Titania. My only apprentice. I knew it would be like this, but it is nice to meet you again."

    "I feel the same. But Teacher, what are you trying to do?" Fear, confusion, and joy filled Titania's eyes.

    Despite reuniting with the person she missed for many years, her intuition made her reluctant to take a step forward. It was because she couldn't help seeing through to the true essence of her wise and affectionate teacher. Titania didn't know what 'Prometheus' avatar' meant, but he was different from the teacher in her memory.

    "...Yes, you are right. There is still time left. Our hero must know my will." Myrdal looked at Theodore and then at the ground.

    Four chairs of dirt rose up, with the particularly dirty one being in front of Clipeus. Myrdal laughed at the group of strangers. "Sit, Dragon Lord. It is just perfect for you."

    "You dare!" Brasmati was outraged and begged Clipeus, "Lord! Please allow me to kill this old man!"

    [It isn't possible.] Clipeus was calm despite the provocation. [The center of this space is that old man. If you kill him, we will be eaten by the darkness and drown forever. I don't want to suffer that senseless pain.]

    "Hoh, it makes sense. As expected from the dragon lord."

    Why was Myrdal acting maliciously toward the dragons, especially the dragon lord? He didn't actually harm them, but it was obvious from his tone and behavior that there might be something bad between them that Titania and Theodore didn't know about.

    Once the two dragons sat down, Myrdal looked at Theodore and started talking, "I want to ask you one thing first. You are now the greatest magician. Do you know 'me'? Not Myrdal, but Prometheus."

    "Um..." Theodore thought for a moment about the question. Then he spoke what he had heard from Gluttony and his own investigation, "In the early days of the Age of Mythology, he rejected the ways of the old gods who ruled and handed the first 'fire' to the humans of that time. As punishment, he was cursed with immortality and forced to carry eternal pain. That is all I know."

    "Well, it is okay. The story behind it wasn't passed on," Myrdal said, casually overlooking Theodore's words. Then he went on to ask a second question that was difficult for anyone to answer, "Before revealing my identity and purpose, guess what the 'first fire' is. What do you think 'fire' is an expression of?"

    Theodore fell silent. However, the silence wasn't because he was trying to figure out the answer. He knew the correct answer from the beginning. The silence was because he was afraid to confirm if it was true. 30 seconds of silence passed by, but they felt like 30 minutes. He couldn't flee forever.

    So, Theodore replied, "...It is the power to control mana."

    Titania's eyes widened, and the eyes of the dragons sharpened. Meanwhile, Myrdal laughed loudly, "Hahaha! That is correct!"

    One of the continent's greatest secrets was revealed.
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