The Beginning After The End | Chapter 269

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Beginning After The End Manhwa Novel

Chapter 269



 Chapter 269


Chapter 269: More Than a Weapon

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I dug my heels, the barren earth splintering from the pressure as I prepared for the long sprint.


“Wait!” a familiar honeyed voice called out from behind.


I looked back over my shoulder, locking eyes with the brown-haired caster that wanted me to join her team. “What is it?”


Daria flinched under my gaze but steeled herself and glared back at me. “Assuming that everyone here follows you, by the time we reach the power source, most of our mana will be too drained to face the guardian.”


Impatience bubbled as I counted the wasted seconds spent talking any further. “So?”


“You don’t seriously think you’re strong enough to take on the guardian by yourself after sprinting a marathon, do you?” Daria snapped, stomping toward me. “You’re going to need all of our help. Hell, even if you see all of us as dead weight, at least you’ll need to be at full strength, right?”


“Just get to your point.”


Her brows furrowed and she opened her mouth to talk back but stopped herself. “To be honest, I have no confidence in being able to get past whatever monstrosity is waiting for us after fighting against the last carallian wave.”


Daria turned around to face the rest of the ascenders listening in.


“Therefore, I have a proposition, but I’ll only do it if he accepts,” she said while pointing back at me. “I have a way that allows all of us to travel while the burden of mana usage falls solely on Orid and myself. We will get everyone there in top condition at the fastest possible speed only if our safety is prioritized.”


Immediately, a few ascenders started protesting until I finally spoke up.


“I agree.”


Judging by how many of the ascenders were willing to tail behind me, my usage of aether would be limited. And with my only weapon gone, it was safe to assume that this final stretch was going to be a drawn out battle.


Daria whipped her head around, her large eyes glimmering as she smiled. “Great!”

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I honestly didn’t know what to expect. Daria had seemed like a capable mage and even if Alacryan mages weren’t very flexible with their elemental manipulation, I had hoped for something…more.


Instead, I seemed to be staring at what looked to be a large…sled…made entirely of ice. At the center was a large tarp hanging off a tentpole as a makeshift mast.


“You expect all of us to ride this?” Taegen asked, towering over the ice sled.


“I’ve condensed the ice several times so it’s sturdier than it looks. I got the overall structure shape from the oceanriders and I’ve tested it several times myself,” said Daria with a hint of pride.


Everyone waited for me to get on the sled first while Daria stood on top of the ice vehicle, expectations high as I walked toward her.


Placing my hand on the surface of the ice, I pushed down with adequate force in order to make sure it could also hold my weight.


“Are you seriously questioning the integrity of my spell right now?” fumed Daria as she threw back her mage robe, letting the luxurious cloth slide down her exposed back to reveal a series of tattoos. “I have four crests and two emblems, you jerk!”


I climbed atop the panel of ice, facing my back to her. “We’ve wasted a lot of time. Let’s move.”


One by one, the rest of the seven ascenders aside from Daria and myself began boarding the large sled until we were all squeezed together and holding onto the railings that Daria had so helpfully conjured.


I was skeptical that she would be able to get the sled moving, but with an updraft taking some of the weight off of the sled and a gust directed at the mast, the eight of us began sailing over the barren dirt plains.


Cool winds brushed past my cheeks as we began accelerating. Despite the weight of nine fully grown adults—ten, because Taegen counted as nearly two people—the oversized sled never faltered or showed signs of breaking. I couldn’t help but be impressed at Daria for continuously managing three spells in order to keep the sled moving.


She used two wind spells for movement while her feet, clad in ice, that anchored her to the sled to keep from pushing herself off, and an ice spell to keep the ice sled from melting or degrading as it slid over the dirt.


Daria’s remaining teammate, Orid, used his earth magic to steer us and smooth particularly uneven parts of the ground that could potentially damage the sled.


After about thirty minutes of travelling, the rest of the ascenders had grown confident enough in Daria that they began to relax and actually enjoy the ride.


I was sitting in the back of the sled, leaning forward against the rear railing that Daria had conjured and simply stared out mindlessly at the vast expanse of unimpressive dirt and the clear blue skies. I had long since accepted the fact that I was looking up at a sky within an ancient ruin that was supposed to be deep underground. With everything that had been going on since waking up here and becoming more acclimated toward aether as I grew stronger, I had long since accepted that the realm of what was achievable using this godly power was far beyond what mana could do.


Growing bored of the bland scenery, I turned around. Aside from Daria and Orid, who were concentrating on keeping us moving, the rest of the ascenders were doing their own things. It seemed that Caera’s group seemed to be the only group left unscathed by the last wave.


The ascender named Keir, who wielded a quarterstaff and controlled motes of electricity to defend and attack, was polishing his weapon, using a thin cloth to dig out the grime that had accumulated in the engravings of his wooden staff.


Trider had his eyes closed, leaning back against the railing with his arms folded and legs crossed while another ascender was reapplyieding bandages around his left leg.


My eyes continued to wander until they landed on Caera, who was sitting near the front left side of the sled. Arian satwas besidenext to her while Taegen had situatedwas by himself alone on the other side, most likely to keep the sled balanced.


Arian was meditating and while I wasn’t able to feel mana anymore, the pressure he gave off was enough evidence. Caera, on the other hand, was staring at the white dagger in her hand, still in its sheath. Her expression looked almost indifferent as shewhile gazeding down at the weapon, as if she was studying it.


Suddenly, a tear rolled down her cheek. She immediately wiped it with the back of her hand before suspiciously peeking around to see if anyone saw.


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Her eyes locked with mine and for a split second, I saw a flash of embarrassment pass through her face as she quickly turned away.


Clearing my throat, I turned around to face the back once more, resting my arms on the cold railing. I tried to find more things to do to keep myself occupied, not willing to address the issue at hand until I finally caved.


Regis, I sent. Are you still not talking to me?


Silence hung in the air as I waited for a response. When none came even after several minutes had passed, I let out a sigh and continued to convey my thoughts, hoping that Regis was listening.


As if I was reading out of my own diary, I conveyed to Regis that, despite having more than an entire lifetime, my ability to properly express and communicate my emotions was passable on a good day. In battle, with just me and my sword, that didn’t matter. I didn’t have to communicate or convey my thoughts in a tactful manner like some sort of neatly wrapped box to the receiving party. No, my swords were weapons—tools that I could utilize and take full advantage of in order to win a battle.


However, Regis was a weapon with sentience and a bigger personality than myself. He was less a weapon and more a companion that I truly relied on for some semblance of human interaction. I tried to shove him into that cookie-cutter role that I had made for weapons, but that quickly failed as he became more and more of a friend to me…like Sylvie had been.


Regis’s timing alone had made it hard for me not to compare him to Sylvie, who had sacrificed herself so I could still be standing here now. A large part of why I wanted to get stronger was in the hopes of bringing back Sylvie from her comatose state, but every dumb conversation and meaningless quibble with Regis I had, I grew scared of even the possibility that Sylvie may feel replaced once she caomes back.


But you know what I’m afraid of the most? Even though I have the body of an asura and the ability to manipulate aether in a way that not even the Indrath Clan can, I’m afraid of growing close to you.


I paused, realizing that I had subconsciously placed my hand on the pouch carrying Sylvie’s stone.


I’ve lost a lot, Regis. Adam, my father, Sylvie, and even Dawn’s Ballad. My mother, sister, Tessia, Virion—, they’re all back in Dicathen and I have no clue how to return, or even how they’re doing back. Worst case, the Alacryans have found the bunker and they’ve all been captured…or killed. Not to be overdramatic but it feels like the closer I become to someone, the harder it is for me to protect them.


I cracked a wry smile. I’m beginning to remember more and more why I became the person who I was back in my previous life… and it’s why I needed to just think of you as a weapon, Regis. Because it’s easier for me that way, in case I lose you too.


I waited and hoped for a response that never came.


Instead, what greeted me was the shifting color of our surroundings. As if the very sky had been marred, crimson seeped and spread above us, covering the once blue expanse. The very air seemed thinner as well and the tension that blanketed over us felt almost tangible. I could tell this wave was going to be different.


“The wave is here,” Taegen said, standing up.


“We’re not going to stop so hold on!” Daria declared, casting a stronger gust of wind at the mast.


The sled sped through the dirt field as cracks began branching and splitting apart ahead. Fortunately, the obsidian structure standing even taller than castle watchtowers, stood only a few miles away, the shimmering red sphere perched at its peak.


These last few miles, however, would undoubtedly be the hardest. Carallians were already emerging by the dozens from the ground ahead.


“Shields, prepare to clear a path for us. We need to reach the tower before the guardian appears!” Arian barked.


Orid stopped focusing on the path ahead and instead, conjured slabs of earth that began rotating around us.


The ride immediately turned rocky without Orid, but we clung on to the railing while Keir summoned his orbs of electricity as well.


“Let me take over the mast,” Trider called out, hobbling toward Daria. “You’ll have to maintain the updraft steady but you’re the only caster left. Help the shields.”


After a beat of hesitation, Daria nodded, releasing the bindings of ice anchoring her to the sled.


Daria, sweating and pale, gave me a knowing glance and I nodded at her. A deal was a deal.


Trider immediately got to work, summoning bracers of wind. He pushed out with his fists aimed at the mast as soon as Daria bound his feet to the sled.


Daria, free from her most strenuous obligation, called forth bursts of wind powerful enough to knock the enlarged carallians out of the way. The ones that she missed were either pushed aside by one of the panels of compressed earth or stunned by the orbs of electricity hovering around us.


Something was wrong. There was no proof that something was wrong, but my body felt it. And judging by how anxious Taegen looked, his face in a fierce scowl and his gaze darting left and right—as if searching for something—I knew I wasn’t the only one.


The earth suddenly trembled, causing Keir to lose balance and let go of his spell.


“W-What’s going on?” he shouted, trying to scramble back to his feet.


The earth shook once more, even stronger this time, followed by a bloodcurdling roar that reverberated from the very ground beneath.


My hair stood on end and a familiar voice affirmed the very action I was about to take.


‘Get out of here, Arthur!’ Regis shouted, a wave of fear spreading from my companion onto me.


But the ground rose and I felt a rush of vertigo as the entire sled rose closer and closer toward the red sky.


Keir, who had been trying to get back to his feet, was thrown fromoff of the edge of the sled and knocked unconscious by one of the panels of earth circling around us.


His body quickly receded from view as he fell off the edge of the rising ground carrying us higher and higher.


Another beastial roar resounded, unmuffled this time and loud enough to make me dizzy, followed by a silhouette of something both large and tall enough to be able to eclipse the majority of the sky.


Then, it looked at us. The tower that had cast a massive shadow over us was, in fact, a long serpentine neck.


Resting on the top of the neck that stretched over ten stories high was the leathery head of a bat with a disproportionately large mouth and two piercing purple eyes…each larger than a carriage, and boring down directly at us.


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