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The time of day when darkness completely dominated the world.
It was a time when wild dogs howled, night robbers swarmed, and ominous emotions created a sense of stagnation.
Even in the midst of all this, there were a few bright spots on the central continent.
They were the cities. The warm light of the people who lived there and the lights leaking from the windows of houses continue to illuminate the dark night in a single mass.
The sense of relief that came from being protected by high walls, a small percentage of the population would not sleep even if they had work tomorrow and would spend their mornings in the drunken stalls of the liquor stores and getting drunk in the streets. Some of them may meet unfortunate ends due to unscrupulous people, but there was still a world of difference between the inside and the outside of the city. The Imperial Capital, the capital of the Great Grantz Empire, ranked high in terms of security among such places.
However, no matter how safe it was, if one stepped outside the city walls, the world changed, and the risk of being stripped of one’s clothes by ruffians increased. Or you may be attacked by special creatures called “monsters.” Which was heaven or hell; there is no need to compare them.
But for today, if you were a living being, good or bad, you do not go out.
Away from the Great Imperial Capital―there were people who continued to fight in the darkness.
The surrounding beasts are trembling from the violent clashes, and fearful people from nearby villages that were not protected by walls were fleeing their homes to safety. No one came to watch the battlefield out of curiosity. The reason was that the battlefield was a kind of hell where “monsters” and human groups mix and kill each other to the best of their ability.
Resignation, anger, fear, confusion, and various other emotions swirled and mingled together to form a single form that pierced the night sky and shook the air.
A strange space existed amidst the horrific battle.
No one entered that place.
Even if you were fighting like a beast that had lost all sense of reason, your senses were sharpened, and your crisis capacity was greatly increased. Their instincts told them that it was a dangerous place, and their feet naturally moved away, creating a strange space.
In a gaping hole in the battlefield where darkness had descended, two men were staring at each other.
The deadly atmosphere emitted by both men was intimidating, and the peculiar air they emitted further kept people away.
One was a boy, his sword in his hand shining with a dazzling white light that kept illuminating the ground beneath his feet.
However, in contrast to the reassuringly powerful light, the boy – Hiro Okuro’s expression was deeper than darkness, dominated by emotions darker than jet black. His black robe was swaying as if to express such feelings. However, the way it swayed was violent for being caught by the wind, writhing like a living creature.
“Persistence… Even if life disappears, the “curse” will not disappear even in this life.”
A young man facing a boy―a blonde-haired, blonde-eyed man whose appearance is a perfect duplicate of the first emperor of the Great Grantz Empire. However, what he really is was nothing like him.
He is called The Faceless King, one of the “Five Great Heavenly Kings” that have existed since the birth of this world, and was revered as a “God” by the people who live in this world. He desired to rule the world and was the one who led the “demon race” to cause the war against the “human race” a thousand years ago. However, his ambitions were crushed by Altius, the first emperor of the Grantz, and the “God of War” Hiro, one of the Twelve Great Gods of the Grands. However, his ambition remained, and after a thousand years of vigilant devotion, he weakened the “Grantz Imperial Family” and once again appeared on the stage to rule the world.
“Black Princess Camellia―after a thousand years, do you still hold a grudge against me?”
The Faceless King narrowed his eyes nostalgically and kept staring at the Black Princess Camellia. Yet, Hiro only turned his emotionless eyes toward him.
“Leaving only the ‘curse’ behind… Entrusting one’s wish to others is too absurd. There is no sense of accomplishment, no satisfaction to be gained there. The original soul is already gone. The “curse” left behind by strong emotions is only a nuisance to those left behind.”
“I am tired. Therefore, the previous “Black Dragon King” entrusted me with everything.”
The Black Princess Camellia was wriggling wildly, and Hiro tapped it against his chest to calm it down. Then, as if understanding his intention, The Black Princess Camellia settled down into the usual black robe. The only thing that could not be hidden was the murderous intent that was emanating from it, and it was directed straight at the Faceless King.
“Tired, huh? … I’m so dumbfounded that I have no words. You don’t understand what we were born for.”
With his arms outstretched, the Faceless King looked up to the sky. His exaggerated movements were grandiose, like those of a vaudeville singer, and on the battlefield, he looked like a saint who was grieving over a conflict.
“There is a king on earth but no god in heaven.”
The Faceless King clenched his fists in frustration and regret and turned his sharp gaze on Hiro.
“The “King” who holds the “Blank Throne” rules the world. In other words, it leads to the “God” who has been absent for a long time. We will know the feelings of the Creator who created us and abandoned us.”
“What do you know about that? Maybe God disappeared just on a whim. Maybe he found something else more appealing.”
The “God” was said to have created this world, but no one has ever met him or talked to him. He was merely created in one’s own imagination and revered as something great. From Hiro’s point of view, this was nothing more than overestimating the existence of a person who doesn’t exist―and even before that, he doubts the existence of a creator.
“In the first place, we don’t even know if there really was a God.”
As if to pour cold water on the Faceless King, who was speaking passionately, Hiro snorted as if to say that he was bored.
“It’s ridiculous to try to understand a “God” that may or may not have ever existed and to aim for a false image of him. If you understand the feelings of the “Creator,” nothing but disappointment awaits you… then all your hard work is nothing more than a joke.”
“Then why do you seek to become a god, and why do you persistently desire power?”
“Proof. In order to destroy the “God,” you are aiming for――”
Hiro took one, two, and three steps forward slowly.
“To remind you that your “God” is nothing more than an illusion, that even an ordinary person can reach it――”
By the time he took his fifth step, Hiro was running on the ground.
He looked straight at his enemy, spread his two swords like wings, and kicked the air.
“The “King” is not special――”
The air cracks, darkness slips into it, space breaks, and blackness enters.
“You are only human.”
Heavy, heavy, the sky is transforming.
No matter what kind of light there is, everything is dyed jet black.
――The sky fell.
In the darkness, even the judgment of slow or fast becomes ambiguous.
Therefore, confusion must had preceded the fall, and if you were a normal person, fear would had taken over,
“Hah, at this level!”
The Faceless King held out his arm to the sky and clenched his hand tightly as if he was grasping something.
“You thought I would be intimidated?”
A sound like something breaking was heard, followed by a faint crashing sound like raindrops on the ground.
It was invisible. It was definitely something, but the world was not bright enough to discern what it was.
Still, the Faceless King laughed in a voice that was not ruled by impatience and even seemed to harbor pride.
“Don’t make me laugh, kid.”
A popping sound echoed in his hand.
It’s a scream. The world was filled with the scream of a beast as if its skin was being ripped off.
No, it was not a beast. It was not a person. Not even a living thing.
It was the sky screaming.
The sound was so unpleasant that it made one want to cover their ears, but Hiro grabbed his black robe with a calm face.
“How long I have been waiting for this day――”
When the heavy bass, which echoed in the pit of the stomach, was scattered around them, Hiro’s black robe expanded in the darkness―an explosion sounded from within.
Yet, as if to shed the shock, Hiro flipped himself around, unharmed, and brushed off the hem of his black robe in a showy gesture.
“I’ll have everything you took from me back.”
When the two crossed paths, fierce sparks flew, and a deafening clash of swords ensued.
But the meeting of the two blades was as beautiful as a painting.
In the darkness, while all living things are engulfed in nothingness, they were truly living with a fierce light.
A light that never faded, a darkness that never disappeared.
The ideal depicted by those who would leave their names to posterity―a miraculous landscape that monopolizes people’s gaze, did not even let them breathe and did not fade away even after thousands of months had passed. The very battle between the two men was part of a historic battle that should be captured in paintings, but there were no famous painters here, and it would remain only in people’s memories.
But unfortunately, the people around them are fighting desperately to be witnesses. They were trying to save their own lives. Therefore, this battle would not even be remembered.
This was just a clash of the meaning of one’s existence, a nameless battle that would leave nothing behind.
“…Have you been asleep for thousand years?”
Hiro was unintentionally speaking to the Faceless King.
So far, not a single attack from either side had hit the other. For a man who has been accumulating power for a thousand years, the Faceless King now belonged to the “weak” category. He had been living an ordinary life until recently, and he had the same level of power as himself, but he could not help but wonder.
“Ah, I have been asleep for a thousand years. Until I met you today, I had stopped.”
The Faceless King stopped moving when he repelled Hiro’s attack. Hiro also stopped, maintaining a certain distance from the attacker without going too deeply into the fight. The Faceless King looked down at the red-glowing “Death Immortal” and lifted his arm up to his eye, narrowing his eyes at the eerie blade pattern that looked as if blood was flowing.
“We are the king. Nothing more, nothing less. With the throne you usurped from the Black Dragon King, you have always stood in the same position. No matter how long you may live in your stupor, no matter how long you may fight for a thousand years because we are “kings,” we will always be in opposition to each other. It is troublesome.”
Looking around, the Faceless King looked up at the night sky and let out a small sigh.
“Even the weakest is a “king” and even the strongest is a “king. If you are the “king,” there is no difference. The idea of being mentioned in the same breath as such brothers and sisters was repulsive to me.”
The Faceless King pointed at Hiro with a happy look. His eyes lit up like a child who had found a treasure, and his expression exploded with unbearable joy.
“But I finally found the answer.”
“Yes. The “Spirit King” chose the “fetters” at random, and the “human,” who is nothing more than “dust” with no other role than that of a “fetter,” told me the answer. The moment the “ordinary” turned into the “extraordinary.” The moment it changed when all my efforts came to naught—I was finally able to get the answer, it was stupidly late.”
“Accept it, kid. The “Pillar of the Gods” etched in history, the “Heroic King” praised by the people, all of it is just an illusion. You are not special. You are just an ordinary, whiny, useless, and slow person, kept alive by “chance,” and standing here only by ‘luck.'”
As the Faceless King spoke these words, Hiro gripped his chest tightly, his teeth gritted, and his mouth was set in a straight line in frustration. As if to shake his heart, the Faceless King did not stop speaking.
“You are an incomplete creature that has thrown all the wheels out of gear. Snatched away the glory.”
The Faceless King let out a sigh of disappointment and raised one hand lightly. With this gesture, the Twelve Demon Lords―Ceryneia and Chimera, who had been watching the battle―approached him.
“There is no need to settle this on a small stage. It seems you have a lot of plans.”
The Faceless King spun his words happily, pointing to the ground as he put on the cloak that Ceryneia had offered him.
“Let me enjoy myself. As the “King,” I will accept. Therefore, I will give you victory for today. The next time we meet will be when you crawl on the ground in a state of helplessness.”
With these words, the Faceless King disappeared as if he had become one with the darkness. Ceryneia and Chimera followed him. The only ones left were the “monsters” who had been abandoned by them, but the battle would soon come to an end. Most of the “monsters” had fallen to the ground in a ravenous attack. The cheers of the people around them began to rise as if they sensed the imminent victory.
However, the word “victory” was not in Hiro’s mind, and he continued to gaze at the place where the Faceless King had vanished.
“Incomplete, huh…? I knew that from the very beginning.”