Chapter 87.3 Protagonist: This will be great, let’s do it
As they prepared for departure, the angel guards came to tell Xiu and Du Ze: Since the Second Layer is closer to them than the Third Layer, they are going to the Second Layer first.
Du Ze didn’t feel much at first but when they crossed the white wall to enter the capital city, he realized that there was a huge difference between the Fourth and Second Layers.
If the Fourth Layer looked like it was dawn during noontime, the Second Layer looked like it was the darkest night before dawn. Dark elements covered heaven and earth. The sun in the sky was like the moon; wherever it went it gave off light and heat, but it only illuminated a small area near it. His field of vision was full of darkness that gave a person a very depressing feeling. He occasionally saw dead trees from his carriage window. Seeing such a scene, Du Ze’s breathing became heavy with dread – can people really live in such a place?
In order to see the road, the carriage guards cast a light spell to disperse the darkness. Du Ze, who had been looking out of the window, suddenly saw several shadows flashing by, and he leaned out to see more clearly. In the darkness there came a soft shuffling sound, like soles rubbing against stone and a rustling sound like robes brushing against something.
In the darkness, a multitude of shadows approached the sides of the carriages. When the carriages’ light momentarily overcame the darkness that surrounded it, Du Ze opened his eyes wide, trying to adjust his vision to see into that darkness. After a while he saw the shadows more clearly and forgot to breathe because of the shock.
Those large and small shadows were wearing cloaks. People? Du Ze wasn’t sure if what he saw were really living things. Those figures were wearing tattered cloaks and their hands were as thin as broken twigs. They stumbled as they followed the carriages and the wind blew open their cloaks, revealing dry, emaciated bodies that were so thin that you could count their ribs – the people who chased the carriages were like skeletons covered by rotten, dead skin.
Du Ze was quickly pulled back by Xiu who unhappily stroked the black-haired youth’s slightly reddened skin – the dark elements outside were strong enough to erode a person’s skin if he stayed outside too long.
Du Ze stared blankly at Xiu. His thoughts were still on that scene: More and more people gathered around the carriages and a man’s hood accidentally slipped down, exposing a putrefying face. The man looked at the carriages as though he was Kuafu chasing the sun;1 his cloudy eyes were filled with an endless desire for light.
“Do you think …” When Du Ze opened his mouth, he found it difficult to speak. “What are those?”
Xiu spread a potion on Du Ze’s reddened skin. “The common people here.”
Without light, surrounded by corrosive dark elements… Du Ze could not imagine how the Second Layer’s people lived. Although he had known what the collection of the light elements did to the environment, seeing with his own eyes how the light and vitality of the earth had been drained and how these pitiful creatures came stumbling after every little bit of light that they saw made Du Ze feel extremely bitter.
The carriages jolted to a stop. The people who had been following them stood quivering at a distance from the convoy, watching them very carefully
The capital city wasn’t any better than the rest of the area. It was also covered with a thick shroud of dark elements. Du Ze saw that there was a group of cloaked people who were waiting for them. Compared to the people behind the carriages, the cloaks of the people in front were not so shabby though they also showed signs of being eroded by the dark elements.
Everyone got out of their carriages and the governor made no secret of his dislike for the Second Layer. When the Archon came forward to kneel to the governor, he said disdainfully: “You will take out the light elements and present them to me now. I don’t want to spend another day in this hell hole.”
The Archon, who was still kneeling on the ground, trembled then looked up, revealing an emaciated face.
“Your Excellency, you can see for yourself that we really have no light elements to give. If you take more of the light elements, the darkness will cover the Second Layer completely and it will become a land of death like the First Layer.” Tears fell from the Archon’s eyes. “Will you please show us a bit of mercy?”
The governor was totally indifferent to the Archon’s humble plea. This scene was too much for the virtuous son of god to watch in silence any longer. Eric walked towards the governor, his young and handsome face full of anger.
“Why are you doing this?” Eric’s eyes moved from the white carriage to the people in the distance. His clenched fists involuntarily tightened. “We have so many light elements, why not give them a little instead of exploiting them like this?!”
Amidst the light emitted by the feathers, the governor seemed to have a slight, scornful smile on his lips.
“It’s very simple.” The governor spoke very slowly, each word stabbing Eric straight through the heart. “Only we who are chosen by2 the god of light can enjoy the light; all other creatures are unworthy.”
This answer was too bizarre and beyond Eric’s capacity to understand. Eric lost some of his composure and his extreme fury made his voice distort: “They’re all going to die!”
“So what?” replied the governor, without a hint of emotion. “What does it matter to us if all of these lowly creatures die?”
As spoke of “these lowly creatures,” the proud and lofty eyes of the angel showed his contempt.
The other’s tone was too natural and unforced, as if he had the absolute sense of superiority and rightness on his side. Eric stood still for a long time and said nothing as the governor spoke those mocking words then said to the Archon: “I will leave tonight so before that, turn over the light elements.”
The Archon was silent for a moment then he slowly rose and raised his left hand. An invisible force came out from a void and carved a symbol of a broken wing on it. The angel’s symbol is normally a wing and a broken wing seemed like an ominous sign. Seeing the Archon’s gesture, the soldiers behind him and the people in the distance raised their left hands which were also marked with the broken wing symbol.
The angel guards took out their weapons. The governor, protected by the guards, said in an arrogant way: “You have all become fallen?”
“… We don’t want to die, that’s all,” said the Archon, his eyes kindling with a deep-seated hatred.
Du Ze had not yet figured out what had happened when he saw the Archon raise his weapons and attack them. Wait – isn’t violence forbidden in the angel trial? The sounds of battle destroyed Du Ze’s beautiful, peaceful fantasy. The angel guards also drew weapons and the people from the Second Layer engaged them in hand-to-hand combat.
The outcome of the battle was clear from the start. The angel soldiers were well equipped while the civilians were nearly exhausted by the lack of light, so even if they had superior numbers, they would surely be slaughtered.
“Stop it!” Seeing that the angel guards ignored him, Eric drew his sword and pointed it at the governor. “Make them stop!”
The angel was quite dismissive of his demand: “You can say those words again when you have more seniority than me.”
Eric stabbed his sword forward by an inch but the sword was like a shadow that simply pass through without penetrating the governor’s body.
Du Ze was shocked at the scene he was watching. They now seemed to be divided into two camps: one side was the side of the angels, while the other side was that of the fallen. Eric’s actions showed that they are still unable to do harm to people from their own side.
The battle soon came to an end. The fallen were slaughtered one after another. Even so, those people did not flinch; they seemed to be close to madness. Like moths to a fire, their longing was such that they desperately rushed towards the light. Their hatred of the angels was extreme, as though they were willing to die just to do a little damage to them, even if all they could do, lacking weapons or strength, was to bite the angels with their teeth.
At the end of the battle, the bodies of the fallen were all on the ground while only one angel was killed. The dark elements clung to the corpses, slowly eating away at their dead flesh that slowly lost their heat. Those who had lived their lives in the darkness were buried in the darkness even after their death.
Eric stared at the pile of corpses and a look of pain flashed through his face.
Du Ze saw Xiu walk to the Archon’s corpse. He examined the broken wing symbol on the Archon’s left hand and raised his left hand in front of the Archon.
The Tower did not give Xiu a broken wing symbol. Xiu did not seem to care; he lowered his hand then rose from the ground to give Du Ze a smile.
“We’ll be out soon.”
The author has something to say:
Protagonist: Monday: Gnome
Author: What about the angel?
Protagonist: The angel form will have to be scheduled separately, how delightful it will be!
Reader: What’s so delightful about it!? (╯╢□′)╯︵┻┻
- I thought that everyone in the angel trial was an angel but today I realized that the word angel was only used for the governor before and now the guards. It seems strange that the ordinary people are humans while the people collecting light elements are angels. Then I remembered that in the Chaos Continent the human race’s primary religion centers on the god of light.
- I still don’t have an editor so if you spot any errors, please let me know by leaving a comment below.
- Kuafu 夸父 is a mythological figure, a powerful and brave giant of a warrior who swore to find the sun to stop it causing a drought. I believe Kuafu chasing the sun is normally meant to be an expression similar to the Western “tilting at windmills” but in this case the people are literally chasing after the light.
- Literally “married to.”