Desir Arman stood still, overlooking the ruins of what used to be a lively city. Prehenople, which had once been known as “the most beautiful city” for three generations, was now nothing more than a dismal shell of its former self.
Desir took a deep breath and shifted his gaze towards the gargantuan figure in front of him.
Meteor Rank, the Dragon of Destruction – Boromir Napolitan.
The massive Hellfire magic above Desir blazed like the Sun. The dragon, Boromir Napolitan, glared menacingly at the 100 humans gathered before him.
“Mere humans would DARE to stand against ME?”
The dragon’s deep voice rumbled forth, capable of completely overwhelming those who heard it through sheer power alone. However, not a single one of the people present lost their resolve.
“This is the end, Napolitan.”
This place was the end of Hell, the end of his suffering within the Shadow Labyrinths. The Shadow World had presented humanity with their final labyrinth. Inside this labyrinth, Desir Arman had witnessed countless deaths, losing friends and loved ones all in the hope of reaching this point.
Friends with whom he had spent his school days with, a classmate he’d had a crush on, and juniors who had tried their very best to follow him.
While Desir was not familiar with every person in the Shadow Labyrinth, he was at the very least acquainted with them.
However, the battlefield had claimed each and every one of their lives night after night, the Shadow Army poured forth endlessly. Day after day, an untold number of people died. Amidst the neverending slaughter, those lucky enough to survive would recite the names of the dead, and continue their struggle for survival.
After 10 years of repeating this cycle of carnage, there were only 100 survivors remaining. A single cry echoed from the group, renewing the fighting spirit of these few survivors.
“Here and now we will slay you, and finally put an end to this Hell!”
Boromir Napolitan’s [Fire Breath], which had once annihilated an entire civilization, marked the beginning of their final tribulation.
It was a battle of epic proportions; truly an event which rivaled any previous legends of old. Hundreds of Draconic spells rained down upon them, as the survivors fought back desperately. What had once been the jewel of this desert, the remnants of Prehenople were ravaged by this ceaseless barrage, returning the city to the sands from whence it came.
The Earth was split asunder and the Heavens torn apart. Defensive spells which had been boasted of as impenetrable shattered like glass, and precious one-of-a-kind artifacts were destroyed as if they were no more than a child’s toy. Even those who had overcome innumerable life-or-death situations succumbed to the dragon’s overwhelming strength.
As their battle dragged on, the survivors found themselves at a greater disadvantage. Despite this bleak reality, no one gave up. They remained steadfast through their determination. They all knew that this was it, there was nowhere to fall back to if they failed here. If they could not slay the dragon in before them, the world would come to an end.
Therefore, they readily gave everything they had to defeat this powerful foe. Fueled by their sense of duty, they would fight to the last-man. Perhaps it was this unyielding spirit which called forth a miracle.
“……The analysis of the first spell, [Absolute Zero], is complete. Attempting to block it using the Ilone System. I’ll be able to seal it in 8 minutes!”
“The bone armor is completely destroyed! Focus on attacking the back!”
A powerful explosion blasted the surroundings. The dragon had used its strongest spell, powerful enough to be considered a final trump card. The burst of magic crashed down upon the ground, waves of energy billowing out like tsunami. However, the force of the attack was significantly weaker than before. The once impregnable dragon was slowly being weakened.
“The analysis of the thirteenth spell is complete. [Solar Storm] is completely sealed!”
“Incoming breath attack from the front! Mages, try your best to disperse it! Frontliners, retreat to a blind spot or to the side!”
Each of the dragon’s attacks were dealt with while the tens of thousands of Draconic magic patterns were being analyzed.
One by one, all of the dragon’s powerful spells were becoming sealed. At the same time, the mages devised a defensive formula to stop any remaining attacks.
Slowly but surely, the dragon was becoming weaker.
“H-How could I lose to mere humans!?”
“The analysis of the final magic pattern is complete! All of the Draconic spells are now sealed!”
“Attackers to the front, slay the dragon!”
“This can’t be happening!”
In the end, all of his spells had been sealed away by the very humans he had looked down upon. Finally, after so much sacrifice and loss, humanity was on the cusp of their victory. It took but a few moments longer; the Dragon of Destruction miserably fell onto the ground, defeated at last. With that, everything was over.
Or so they thought…
The survivors felt relief wash over them, now realizing they had won against all odds. Only six of them had survived the battle. With glee-filled expressions, they stared at the dragon’s corpse sprawled out in front of them. Memories of the past decade flashed through all of their minds.
They had lived day to day with one foot in the grave at all times. They had overcame thousands of life-or-death situations, and watched their close friends die one by one. Yet, they had managed to stay alive.
“Are we finally able to leave this godforsaken place……?!”
Everyone collapsed among the debris of the brawl, exhausted from the lengthy fight.
“Good work everyone. We actually did it, we’ve saved the world.”
Their leader The Knight of Light, Raphaello, praised those who remained.
“But why isn’t there a pop up?…. The clear message…. Was it not?…. This Shadow World’s objective….. to slay the dragon.”
The man who asked this question was covered from head to toe in an exorbitant amount of gold jewelry. As a warrior of the northern savages, Donaif was not familiar with the official language.
“Hm, I’m not sure either. It’s usually the case that once the mission is cleared, we’re able to return to our own world immediately. But this place doesn’t seem to follow the normal rules of the Shadow World, so it’s difficult to say what could happen. I think it’s best that we wait a bit.”
Raphaello seemed certain that there was nothing better to do than stand by. Soon after, the person sitting next to Raphaello spoke with a dreary voice.
“Only six out of 150 million people survived. That’s a survival rate of about 0.000004 percent. What terrible odds.”
The man wore a blue hood and held on to a staff. He was known as the Great Sage Zod. Hearing that, the Pure White Saint Priscilla responded angrily.
“Stop doing useless calculations. They won’t bring back the dead.”
“After any incident, especially one like this, it’s always important to organize things. Especially if over 99% of all mages on the entire continent are dead.”
Desir Arman, who was watching the Sage and the Saint, interrupted the two in an attempt to end their quarrelling.
“In any case, it doesn’t change the fact that we saved the world.”
As the reality of the situation slowly dawned on them, the survivors relaxed and discussed the battle with each other. The only person who did not say a word was the Spellsword of the Dawn, Ajest. She was sitting slightly away from the rest, listening to their story in silence
“It would have been really hard if you weren’t here for us, Raphaello.”
At Priscilla’s words, Raphaello waved his hands in modesty.
“No, no. As a Paladin, I just fulfilled my duty to protect everyone. Sir Desir played a bigger role than me.”
Desir, who had been staring at the ground this entire time, looked up. As their eyes met, Raphaello smiled.
“Right…. This would have been impossible to clear…. Without you Desir.”
Donaif agreed with Raphaello, seeing as he had received help from Desir twice during their time in the Shadow World.
“To be honest, I thought you would have been long dead by now.”
Zod, who was still giving off a gloomy atmosphere, cast his gaze on Desir.
“Even if you had received help from artifacts, it’s difficult for me to believe that a 3rd circle mage could analyze Draconic magic and seal it. Even I, as a 7th circle mage, cannot succeed in the reverse analysis of Draconic magic like that. How come you’re only a 3rd circle mage with so much talent? Is there any special reason?”
Everyone’s eyes were now focused on Desir. In a serious tone, Desir answered his question.
“Because I was born as a commoner, I never received a proper education. It’s a shame to know that we could have saved a lot more people if we hadn’t been so focused on the differences in social class, especially with the discriminatory separation of students in the Academy.”
“……That’s too bad. If only we’d had more people like you in the Tower of Magic, then your talent wouldn’t have been wasted for so long.”
“Let’s stop talking about the boring past.”
Desir turned towards Raphaello’s voice. Covering his face from the sunlight with one hand, Raphaello surveyed the survivors.
“We’re the heroes that saved the world. When we return, we’ll certainly receive a grand welcome home. But after all that, what will everyone do after we get back?”
Donaif, who was now sitting across from Raphaello, spoke first.
“I’m going to stop by…. The homes of my fallen comrades…. And return…. Their belongings…. To remember their honorable deaths…. Forever.”
The barbarian had hundreds of pieces of jewelry. Each piece had a different initial engraved on it, in remembrance of his fallen brethren from the North.
While Desir was lost in thought, Priscilla spoke up.
“I’ll be returning to the Western Kingdom to comfort the families of the deceased soldiers. I must take responsibility for their livelihood. For everyone that lost their lives here, I’ll build a memorial tower or a shrine in their honor. I’m sure it’ll make them happy.”
Soon after, Zod spoke too.
“I’ll just continue my research, but I’ll shift my field of study to the Shadow World. If another Shadow Labyrinth of this scale were to appear again, it would definitely be the end of the world. We don’t have the troops, the resources, nor the time to prepare again, so I’ll do my best to prevent recurrence of a Shadow Labyrinth.”
As soon as Zod finished talking, Raphaello looked at Ajest, who still hadn’t said a single word.
“What will you be doing Lady Ajest?”
As usual, Ajest did not respond. With a blank expression, Ajest stared at Raphaello for some time and turned away. With an awkward smile, Raphaello asked Desir.
“What about you, Sir Desir? I’m certain that you’ll be welcomed anywhere you go! You can go to the Western Kingdom, or our Kingdom, or even Sir Zod’s Tower of Magic. Or maybe you’re planning to return to Hebrion Academy?”
Just as Desir was about to speak
A powerful surge of mana roared forth, setting the previously carefree survivors on edge. The first person to question this sudden change was Zod.
“Did we miss something!?”
“W-Wait a minute! Didn’t we clear this Shadow Labyrinth? I thought the objective of this Shadow Labyrinth was to slay the dragon!”
Priscilla screamed in return, her voice full of confusion.
“Did we not. Completely kill. The dragon?”
Likewise, Donaif’s voice filled with shock.
“That’s not possible! I definitely confirmed its death!”
Cries of disbelief melded together. While everyone continued to panic, Zod spoke again in an unexpectedly low voice.