The Road of Voracity
Blood splattered everywhere. A woman’s dazed gaze fell on the spear impaling her left chest. When she felt the coldness of the blade penetrating her heart, her pupils shook as her body slowly lost strength.
As the woman collapsed to the ground, an owner of an anguished cry rushed to the spearman’s back. The spearman let go of his spear, startled by how quick the voice was approaching him. But that was it. The spearman quickly spun around, swinging his fist at the enemy behind his back.
The target fell backward from the impact. The spearman didn’t stop and swung down his bloody fist once more.
The target’s head burst open in an instant. Even then, the spearman didn’t stop. Once, twice, thrice…. He roared and screamed, bashing the target’s head until he finally smashed the man’s skull and brain to pieces.
Only then did he stop his fists and looked around with a pair of bloodshot eyes. He picked up his spear. Then, he kicked off the ground, which was wet with a disgusting mixture of brain matter and human flesh.
The man resembling a demon shot into a swirling fog.
A swirling fog of ashes….
Cough. The collapsed woman heaved out a dry cough. She scowled from the smell of ash in the area. But her frown only lasted a moment. She lifted her head and surveyed her surroundings.
“Is anybody there…?”
Only a bleak gust of wind blew by.
“Is everyone… dead?”
She waited, but no reply came back. Kuk. She let off a sudden chuckle and began humming as if she was singing a lullaby.
“Dead, dead, everyone’s dead….”
She looked at a burnt corpse near her and thought it looked better than some others. In another spot, a lump of meat that was once a human being floated in a pool of blood. She looked around once more as disappointment emerged in her expression.
Her throat hurt.
She somehow managed to raise her upper body before spitting out her saliva. Her complexion lightened a little before she looked up at the distant sky with her blurring sight.
…How did she end up like this?
One day, an alien race appeared in her world. Although it was only discovered later on, this race had been chased away from its original home-world. After suffering a crushing defeat, they had wandered aimlessly in outer space for a very long time before invading her planet.
In order to become its new overlord.
This woman was the princess of a certain kingdom subordinate to the Empire. She was six years old when she first heard the news of the alien race’s appearance, and she was ten when she heard the news of the Empire’s collapse.
Despite being praised as the ‘Never Setting Sun’ for their overwhelming technology and magic engineering, the almighty Empire had fallen in less than four years.
Soon, the alien race devoured the Chief Deity worshipped by the Empire, turning the land into an ownerless wilderness.
That was probably when everything began.
Deprived of its Chief Deity, the planet fell prey to the many other races that had been eyeing it for an opportunity to pounce.
The first invading alien race posed its leader as the new Chief Deity and began a bloody invasion throughout the planet. It was around then that new alien races began to appear one by one.
One had appeared in the name of ‘survival’, and the others under the banner of ‘conquest’….
Recalling the events of the past, the princess chuckled feebly. The land once ruled by mankind was now a war ground for several foreign races.
Pushed around this way, pushed around that way, the original inhabitants devolved to a candle flickering in the wind.
But accompanying the appearance of these foreign races were the seven un-worshipped gods, who were born together during the birth of the planet. These seven gods promised to help the surviving humans, and the inhabitants promised to worship them in return.
And so, the deal was struck. But to the surprise of the inhabitants, help from these gods came in a strange manner.
Their method of fighting back was to form an army by summoning another race that most resembled the world’s inhabitants.
There was no other choice. Even the mighty Empire was toppled within a brief four years, so how could the kingdoms that served under it resist the alien races?
Furthermore, the population had fallen drastically due to the war.
“Those damned sons of bitches.”
The princess spat out a curse as she blankly stared up at the sky.
‘We shouldn’t have trusted them in the first place.’
In truth, it wasn’t so bad in the beginning. The first Earthlings summoned to aid the inhabitants grew at a shocking speed under the gods’ divine protection.
However, as their influence grew and gradually overwhelmed that of the original inhabitants, the situation began to change.
There really were all sorts of reasons. Some formed groups by nationality, some by the color of their skin, some by religion, and some by politics.
In the end, ‘profit’ was the problem. The factionalization among the Earthlings began to cause rifts in the relationship of the once-united kingdoms. The alliance formed under the desire to survive broke into pieces, and the ensuing internal conflict naturally weakened their forces.
There were some who even revolted against the new gods.
It was truly unfathomable.
But was that all?
In the end, the majority of Earthlings refused to participate in the final battle. They coldly ignored the inhabitants’ desperate pleas and returned to their home-world.
This was why rage boiled inside the princess.
She was about to curse once more but quickly shut her mouth.
A soft sound echoed out amidst the gradually-cooling mountain of corpses. The sound approached her, but it stopped a bit to the right of her.
Standing there was a burnt corpse.
In front of the corpse was a large darkness that couldn’t be described with words.
[Truly amazing! I did not place much hope, but to think you actually survived this bloody battle…]
As if to answer the princess’ question, the collapsed man raised his head. A powerful emotion surged up within the princess’ heart, but she had no choice but to swallow it back down.
The state of the Earthling was horrific, so much so that she wanted to avert her gaze.
The number may have been extremely small, but it wasn’t as if no Earthlings participated in the battle. The state of the burnt man clearly demonstrated that he had fulfilled his duty in this battlefield.
When the princess thought this far, she began to develop a sense of sympathy. At the same time, she felt it was a shame.
‘If only all the other Earthlings were like him….’
[I want to praise your achievements a bit more, but you do not have much time left.]
A low-pitched voice struck her ears.
[Since you kept your promise, it is time for me to keep mine. Tell me, what is it that you wish?]
As darkness set in the man’s eyes, his weakened eyes looked forward. When he opened his mouth, he spurted out bits and pieces of his organs along with a mouthful of blood. His voice seemed to be lost, as only the sound of wind passing through his vocal cord came out.
[You do not have to speak. I can simply read your mind… So, you wish to be revived?]
The princess almost laughed. Wishing to be revived? What use would it be? Everything was already over.
[No? How foolish, your life is hanging by a rope. Then what is it that you want? Don’t tell me, riches? Honor? In this situation?]
Suddenly, the tone of the darkness went up.
[You want to start over?]
An ominous sensation suddenly rose up in the princess’ heart.
An enraged voice shook the earth.
[Even with your achievements, how could it be possible to reverse time!? You wanted to return everything to the way it was with only what you’ve accomplished?]
[Impudent! Perhaps if you accomplish today’s feats dozens of times more, but in the current state, I cannot grant your wish. Nevermind your soul, not even a single piece of your body can be sent back!]
[How persistent! Given that your life is about to end and the feats you have accomplished until now, I shall restrain myself. Tell me another wish.]
Then, a heavy silence descended.
[…Why did you make such a wish?]
Was the darkness moved by the pitiful sight of the man dropping his head? The voice reverberating in the princess’ ears softened slightly.
[Child, hurry and wish for your revival. If that is truly your wish, you can ask again in the future after you’ve accomplished more feats. Though, I can’t say that it will be possible.]
The man’s shoulders jumped ever so slightly. He seemed to be cackling. It was already a miracle just to have survived this battle. But he had to accomplish feats equaling dozens of what he accomplished already?
The man, the princess, and the owner of the voice all knew it was impossible.
The man raised his head just barely.
His mouth moved slightly.
[You want your current feelings to…]
[Since you can’t send back your body or soul, you want to send back the feelings you felt here?]
The darkness seemed to be taken aback, as silence descended once again.
[…Sending back feelings based on memories…. Certainly, feelings are only thoughts of your emotions.]
After a long silence, the voice answered.
[But even that is difficult.]
Although it was only for a brief moment, the mouth of the dying man twisted up.
[I am truly sorry.]
That was it.
The man’s shoulders stopped moving. Plop.His head slumped, never to rise again. Just like that, he stopped moving.
Suddenly, a hand-like thing reached out from the darkness. As if it had suffered a great loss, it slowly caressed the man’s head.
The princess, who had been watching this scene unfold, spoke up. The darkness stopped its hand.
[You are… a descendant of the Royal Families.]
“That is correct, O Venerable Gula.”
The princess smirked as if to ask why that mattered.
“The kingdom has fallen. The gates must have been taken over by now too. With everything he’s experienced, wouldn’t it be better to die? Even though the Oath will cause him to lose his memories, that’ll only make for a cleaner ending. He will have a place to return to.”
[No, this child didn’t wish to return.]
The heavy tone of the voice caused the princess’s eyes to widen.
[He said he wouldn’t have a place to call home even if he returned.]
“A place to call home….”
Those words moved the princess’ heart. Perhaps, she felt a sense of camaraderie. With the kingdom’s collapse, she also didn’t have a place to call home. Although a few humans would have surely survived, their fate would be no different from that of livestock.
After all, humans couldn’t become the victors of this war.
“Then why didn’t you just grant his wish?”
Her quiet grumbling made the darkness smile.
[Nonsense. All effects must follow causes. No matter what, this child’s wish would have resulted in interfering with the past.]
The princess chuckled bitterly. She couldn’t understand, nor did she want to. It just sounded like an excuse.
[His achievements were simply not enough to become the cause.]
“You say that, but you seem to be regretting it quite a bit.”
[How could I not? This child was originally born with the fate of an Executor.]
The princess was surprised. The Executors were the apostles who carried out the will of the seven gods. They were the seven leaders chosen to fight against the monsters threatening the world.
The problem was that only one of them participated in this battle.
[Right, he shone brighter than any of the other stars. If only he didn’t ruin everything with his own hands… Why do humans only learn to regret after everything is over?]
The darkness fell silent. The princess also closed her mouth. She had spoken up because she didn’t want to die lonely. Although she had regained her consciousness for a brief moment, she knew from the moment she opened her eyes that she wouldn’t live for long.
The princess’ eyes turned to the dead man. His humble end was all the more pitiful.
She had no way of knowing for certain, but if he wished for the reversal of the time, he must have lived through life-or-death situations of incredible degree. But even that had not been enough to grant his wish.
He had fought like a dog and died like a dog, without receiving any compensation.
“…O Venerable Gula.”
After a moment of hesitation, the princess rummaged through her pocket.
“Please grant this Earthling’s wish.”
“The Royal Oath… you haven’t forgotten about it, have you?”
The darkness’ brief confusion disappeared, and it stopped talking.
Inside the princess’ wide-open palm was a beautifully crafted necklace. Although it was stained with blood, its original beauty couldn’t be hidden, as it shone brightly.
“With the oath you made to my father and this man’s achievements, wouldn’t it be enough to grant his final wish? Even if reversing time is difficult.”
[…Do you have a reason to go this far?]
When Earthlings crossed over to this world, the Royal Families also promised to reward them for their efforts. The princess had no desire to even think about the bastards who ran away from the final battle, but the Earthling in front of her had stayed until the end.
Since he had honored his duty, it was time for her, as the princess, to honor the Royal Families’ promise. Plus, this was the final ounce of pride she could keep before dying.
[But I can grant your own wish instead.]
“What can you do for me?”
The princess laughed out loud.
One thing she learned from this long war was that not even gods were omnipotent. What could she even wish for in this doomed world?
[I will say it again. This child cannot go back.]
[Only his feelings of yearning and regret… Even those would not be etched into his mind and only pass by like a fleeting dream.]
[He might end up treating it like an insignificant dream and forget all about it.]
[One thing I am sure of is that both you and he will die in this place. Are you saying that this is okay?]
The darkness’ voice struck the princess’ ears multiple times as if to reaffirm her wish. It would be a lie if she said she didn’t have second thoughts.
But… she was exhausted.
The war had gone on for long— too long. Although she endured all this time as one of the rulers of this land, she now wanted to rest. Returning to nothingness and falling into an eternal sleep didn’t sound too bad.
‘If only all earthlings were like you….’
Then, she wouldn’t have had any regrets.
[You want to grant his wish that much? Even at the cost of giving up what rightly belongs to you?]
A smile formed on her lips for the first time.
Finally, the wish had been decided.
[In that case, fine.]
She could feel something like a pair of wings spread open from the darkness.
[Come closer, my child.]
Suddenly, her body turned light like a feather. By the time she noticed this, her vision had become half-blurry.
The world spun, and something unknown came up to her eyes.
The last thing she got to see was…
[I cannot wait—]
…a blue fragment rising above the man…
[Until I meet the two of you again.]
And the darkness laughing in joy.