He was a star that shone brightly before its tragic destruction.
One of his emperor's close confidants along with Kazan. Loved and admired by all of the empire,
and then abandoned under the charge of treason.
He once was together with the most beautiful woman in Pelos.
Once called the Compass of the Empire, the Wise Guide.
Then, the once bright star fell onto the Pelos Empire, burning with anger and resentment.
It was a disaster.
Elerinon was the name of the family of the woman he loved. It also was the wealthiest city in Pelos, filled with gold.
The flames of the holy war engulfed the city and kept it burning for a century,
its golden luster buried in gray ash.
The bigger the fire, the darker the ash it leaves behind.
The once biggest star of the empire became its darkest stain in its history.
The Black Crusade was the greatest torment and embarrassment that the Pelos Empire has ever endured.
The war is over, but I sing the story of the hero who has become Chaos,
so the pain of the Crusade will be remembered by generations to come.
- A song of a bard who survived the old Black Crusade
I heard the wheezing voices in the dark.
They were filled with anger and resentment at the world.
You think Chaos has eaten away at your world,
introducing unholy things, corrupting the good people, disrupting world order?
If you think I'm responsible for that, then so be it.
If you think I whispered in your ears the wicked things that you shouldn't hear and showed you the things that you shouldn't see, then so be it.
It doesn't matter that the false truth coiling inside you like a snake actually did it.
Or that the echoing sound in your heads you've been trying so hard to ignore is of your own death throes.
If you're so desperate to ignore the truth,
then yes, go ahead and blame me.
If I can expose the horror of the world and prove your foolishness,
I'm even willing to turn myself inside-out through my festering wound.
I'm just a broken compass, an arrow shot before the others.
You may be able to stop me, but you can't stop the barrage of arrows that follow me.
My grudge has pulled my bowstring, and I will cleave through the sky of this inverted world.
The chaos inside me has grown too great to be contained by the chain tied around me.
The light that once blinded me now lets me to see the darkness in it.
The time for Chaos has arrived without my intervention,
and they've shown themselves before me of their own accord.
I've known this would happen from the beginning.
If the prophecy holds true, this shell will be broken, but the chaos that breaks out of it will last eternally.
If I have one regret...
I won't be able to see him, who's been waiting for me in the netherworld.
But there's nothing else.
This is the end for me and the world that I've chosen.
In this world beyond life, only the red moon shines upon me.
What I did to protect my faith and honor has become my karma, weighing down on me.
The trials of the nine ghosts shackle around my ankles, holding me back.
I had to put them behind me and go after you.
The weight of my sins grew heavier, the longer I evaded them,
but I couldn't ignore my friend who was ready to destroy himself for revenge.
My severed tendons thrash and my dead heart roars
every time I think of the empire,
but what it did to me is nothing compared to what it did to you, taking your sight away along with the love of your life, so you couldn't see her ever again.
I should have carried all this by myself.
I didn't have much to lose, unlike you.
Watching you lose your composure, listening to her whispers, I felt as if everything was my fault.
Your hollow soul was the only thing you had left. I couldn't just let you throw it away.
I would have burned my soul to protect you if I could,
but I'd already been sent here with all my karma on my shoulders. It was all I could do to hold you back.
And then, the day came.
I warned the world repeatedly, and I wished it never came.
On the day when the red moon disappeared from the netherworld, I arrived here with it.
I felt my dulled anger toward the empire rekindled, burning fiercely. It seared my flesh from underneath.
Perhaps it's better this way.
You just watch from there.
I'll take care of everything.
Under the sky as red as the day in my memories,
I'll put an end to everything, so the same tragedy won't repeat itself.
After that, I'll carry both of our sins with me
back to the netherworld.
As you wished, I revealed the truth about the Saint to the slaves of Light.
I watched as they grieved their loss, divided into factions, and tried desperately to cover up their embarrassment.
I led those who agonized over this truth and fell miserably.
As you wished, I've organized a church for you.
I resurrected a girl whom I found dead in a quiet alley
and made her your evangelist.
The slave of Light who agonized over the contradictions of his saint eventually turned away from Light,
submitted to the Ruin, and fulfilled his duty to us before he died.
I gave the desperate boy a tiny bit of motivation, which was enough to pollute his mind.
Not long after that, he joined the Despair and became his loyal watchdog.
The arrogant slave of Light who thought he was a savior himself voluntarily chose the path of corruption,
and eventually conquered the Ruin through his boundless ambition.
I also gave new wings to the fallen one who lost his family to the divided slaves of Light.
His wings slaughtered hundreds and thousands of slaves of Light.
I've prepared everything you've wanted.
We're ready to color the world with chaos again.
Feeling the overflowing energy of Chaos in the air,
Ruinous breathed deeply.
With a refreshing sensation, a surge of power entered his body and sent his mind a few centuries back.
It was still fresh in his mind how he led his Imposter army here on the Plain of Ruin,
terrorizing his enemies.
He also remembered each and every one of those arrogant Priests who got in his way.
He swung his zanbato and crushed their faces into a pulp, but...
the war that he was so sure of winning resulted in their complete defeat.
There was both hostility and fear in his growl.
The boy with a holy light in his eyes amassed Priests and wielded the deadly holy power against his Imposters.
His cross still stood in the corner of the Dark Side, threatening the march of his Imposter army,
but Michael was no more.
Ruinous stopped in the middle of the Gladden Plain.
The Pureblood that he expected to see upon his return to this world was nowhere to be seen.
But his old, faithful chariot was, patiently waiting for its master, to be driven through the battlefield just like before.
"Hah hah hah! Let's go on another rampage together."
The return of Chaos was nigh. They must not lose the battle this time.
The thought of quenching his bloodthirst in the coming carnage lightened his heart. He was ready.
Ruinous's mouth stretched into a big, toothy grin.
The sound of the hellsteed's snorting echoed through the Dark Side.
The horse silently galloped through the shadowy land with the Knight of Despair on its back.
He had returned to the Dark Side after enduring centuries of confinement. It was filled with the energy of Chaos.
Having sensed approaching enemies, Tiamat stopped his horse.
The rage within him demanded blood right this minute,
but a thought gave him pause.
He already fought these enemies once. They were formidable.
He needed to prepare himself first.
Frowning, he examined the energy of the oncoming enemies.
Just as he expected, their disgustingly holy energy was speckled with the energy of Chaos.
A young woman appeared by his side.
"Check who has the power of Chaos among these enemies.
You can agitate weak minds. Use your ability to awaken the voice of Chaos in them."
Trokka quickly nodded and left.
Tiamat combed his hellsteed's mane, collecting its energy and shaping it into a cap that wrapped itself around him.
He was determined to win this battle, by fair means or foul, for the return of Chaos.
"Come. I'll throw you into the pit of despair. You can never escape from it."
The energy that Tiamat released in spite of himself
thickened the darkness of the shadows around him.
He wasn't going to lose to the same enemy twice.
He whispered and raised the Four Beasts' energy. The voices that rang through his head gradually faded away.
Looking pleased, he turned his gaze to the scenery around him.
He was in Armis, the Garden of Mirrors, next to the throne of Chaos,
filled with mirrors carved out of crystal.
Midnight's Darkness slowed down and stared at his image reflected in a mirror.
He'd changed since he absorbed the blood of the Purebloods. Dark shadows loomed behind him.
"I'm not going to be a puppet of Chaos. I'll be the master of the Western Paradise."
Midnight's Darkness spat out the words as he clenched his fists.
He gave up his Priesthood and even endured the criticism of the rest of the world for this one purpose.
He'd waited so long and gone through so much for this opportunity. He wasn't going to let anyone—or anything—take it away from him.
To fully digest the powers of the Ruin and Despair that he'd absorbed,
he had to understand Ozma from inside the god's own mind, which was this place.
Of course, if he succumbed to his power during the process, he'd go back to being his puppet...
"I can just get rid of what's unnecessary and put back what I need."
Midnight's Darkness forcefully shook his head as if to forget the negative thoughts.
He didn't come all the way here just to give up at the first challenge he faced.
By the end of this crusade, which was coming to an end, he planned to have reached a higher state of power.
"I'll sacrifice myself if I have to..."
Reciting his belief, he resumed his exploration into Chaos's mind.
The woman climbed the tower
that once was called the Eye of Elerinon or the Symbol of Knowledge.
She stood on the top of it and looked down at the city beneath her.
"Ah... Finally, I'm on your holy land."
Her admiration was quickly interrupted.
A loud grating noise was heard and then, the tower vibrated under her feet as if by an earthquake.
Something huge rose, covering the sky and the land and everything else in between.
A gigantic centipede had climbed the tower, wrapping itself around it.
When it reached the top, its massive head rose above her own.
Its scales rubbed against each other, creating a hair-raising sound.
Anyone else would have been terrified by this sight and run the other way.
She just looked up with fascination in her eyes.
The centipede examined her for a while, and then quietly lowered its head.
Having understood the significance of this, she was deeply moved.
Slowly, she stepped toward the creature.
"You're Empernoir... the First Imposter...!
Chaos, I accept your oracle."
The energy of Chaos washed over her.
Every time she took a step, thick chunks of impure energy fell off around her,
leaving her feeling refreshed and renewed.
By the time she stepped onto the centipede's head, she had been freed from all of the burden.
With her atop its head, the centipede coiled itself around the tower all the way to the top.
She looked down at the scenery beneath her, beautifully tainted by the energy of Chaos.
"Dear Chaos, as your oracle, I'll make sure everyone in the world receives your messages."
The centipede's roar reverberated throughout the Dark Side.
There's plenty of snacks for you around here!
It's been a long time since we saw living humans.
You'll regret if you swallow them at once.
Then, what do we do, you ask? I've got an idea.
We can play with them until we get tired of them, and then you can eat them all up!
What do you say? Good idea, right?
La, la, la! Then, what should we do with them for starters?
Hey, you. Do you like to play ball? How about playing hide-and-seek?
Or we can play popping bubbles—with your bodies in them!
Ho ho. Don't be so scared.
I won't let him eat you until the very end.
Just make sure
you keep us entertained,
or Draugr will lunge at your wounded friend behind you.
The seething demon blood in his body heated up his cells.
The return of Chaos was nigh! Despero burst into mad laughter
as he tossed away the body of an enemy in his hands onto Phylis Thoroughfare.
As he breathed in the energy of Chaos scattered across the Dark Side,
he could feel the horns in his forehead grow stronger. He was also getting mysterious surges of power.
He was ready to execute every enemy who dared set foot on the Dark Side!
But he wasn't going to let his excitement make him forget his duty.
Messing with weaklings could wait.
He first must awaken the God of Extinction from his long slumber.
The destructive god would wake up agitated and look for something to take his anger out on.
He could slip away while the god's wrath poured down on the unsuspecting adventurers.
The seal had become loose. There was no way it could withstand the power of Chaos if pressured from the inside and the outside.
Soon, Chaos would return to Arad.
And as for what comes next...
Despero shook his head.
There was no next.
The moment he joined the Cult of Darkness and dedicated himself as a vessel for the Three Dark Knights,
his purpose of life had become the complete destruction of this world.
"The servant of Chaos is here to follow his Will."
He was no longer the page of the Knight of Despair.
He was a believer of the destruction of the world, a follower of the chaos that would bring it about.
He was Desperado.
It was bitter cold atop Mount Thunderime.
He had lost his clutch on the way up
in the raging blizzard that blinded him.
"Doesn't the wind sound like an excited crowd?
It reminds me of when we led our forces into the city after winning the battle."
On the top of Mount Thunderime covered with
thick layers of snow,
he sat with a body in his arms. He had lost the tendons in his legs.
The body in his arms had lost tendons in its arms.
"At that time, all I knew was fighting for my country.
I always fought on the front lines and wanted nothing but a shot of liquor to enjoy with my friends after the battle."
He stopped talking for a moment. His hearty laughter rang through the blizzard.
The strength in his voice belied his pale complexion.
Life briefly returned to his eyes as he reminisced about the past.
"I dedicated myself to my country... for this?
It took away my family, my legs, and you, Great General.
Well, it at least let me see you for one last time. Hah hah."
His breath steamed as he tearfully laughed.
There was a blue tinge to his beard. He was having a hard time breathing.
Knowing his death was near, he smiled ruefully.
"Whew... If... Just if...
If there really is an afterlife, I'd like to... like to..."
He stopped breathing.
His voice couldn't be heard anymore,
but the words he couldn't say echoed through the air.
Fight alongside you one more time.
His hand holding the dagger was shaking, but not with fear.
His guilt of sending his comrades into harm's way and the long duration of seclusion
had physically weakened the young adjutant to such a degree that he could barely hold the dagger in his hand.
He quietly stared at the blade.
He felt relieved at the thought of escaping from the nightmare that had tormented him since Kazan's death.
Swallowing back a bloody cough, he smoothed out his clothes again.
"General Karelin... Great General."
He had given up his noble title and entered seclusion long ago. He only came back out of it because of the news of Great General Kazan's exile.
No one came back alive from the Exile Mountains after being sentenced to life there, especially without tendons in his arms.
Kazan was already as good as dead in the public's mind.
"Don't forgive your terrible adjutant.
I was fooled by the emperor, but that didn't change the fact that I betrayed you."
Leonid knelt. In front of him was the sword and shield that Kazan and Karelin gave him on the day he was appointed adjutant
and the magic book that he always carried to battle with him.
The three most important things that he cherished. He thought they symbolized the bond among the three.
"Even though my body is confined within the capital city, I'd like to follow you in spirit.
I hope you wouldn't abandon my poor soul when we met."
He threw himself forward. A painful groan was released from his clenched teeth.
A pool of blood appeared beneath him, soaking the sword, shield, and magic book as it spread.
Leonid's mouth covered with coughed-up blood formed a sad smile.
He didn't know someone was watching his last moments
through the gap around the gate to the netherworld.
Scalpel was special.
With just a bit of energy of Chaos,
he became incapable of feeling pain
and sprouted another set of arms, which enabled him to rip apart more enemies at the same time.
While he fought on the battlefield,
his body was often riddled with enemies' weapons.
Scalpel made good use of them by swinging them back at them.
People were afraid of the Three Dark Knights,
but on the battlefield, Scalpel slaughtered more enemies than all of them combined.
When the number of enemies he killed reached a few hundreds, their spirits started haunting and bothering him.
So, he started carrying a coffin to keep them locked up inside.
His devastated mind didn't remember much about his past as a human,
but he figured that he never was a good man.
Because a good man would never feel so excited
about butchering enemies like he did
or hearing the spirits of his dead enemies cry through the coffin he carried on his back.
Hush, little girl.
Don't wake up from your sweet dreams.
No weapons clanged all day.
No Imposters came to get you, either.
Hush, little girl.
Your groom was never turned into an Imposter or stoned to death.
You were never tied to a tree or abandoned by your own people.
You'll forget all that when you wake up.
Hush, little girl.
Bury all the terrible things that happened to you in your dreams.
Leave all the terrible thoughts that you had here as well.
After Chaos sweeps through the world,
you can wake up from these sad dreams as if they never happened.
Hush, little girl.
Keep dreaming your sweet dreams.
Until everyone can see where they end.
- A song that was sung all night at the barracks where Imposters appeared later
The Dark Side still had the vivid traces of the intense battle that was fought ages ago.
I approached the old human remains in front of me.
Probably a child's, judging by the size.
Did we do this?
For a long time, I was so angry at the world that I believed everything He said.
But the seed of doubt that was planted in my mind started growing quickly. Now, it was out of control.
Have I really known the answer, like he said?
He's made me doubt the words of my god. Does he really think I know the answer?
Since I met him, uncertainty had poked its head out of the gap in my angry mind.
Then, what I've done so far... Have I only created more people like me?
What are you doubting?
His voice rang in my head, forcing me to kneel.
The power that pressured onto me was like a command that refused to be denied.
We're about to pull down our arrogant enemies from their pedestals, and you sway at their smallest deception.
"Dear Chaos, I only wanted to protect what was precious to me, and what I've done so far—"
I felt His energy coming up from the ground underneath me.
It started encroaching upon me.
Stop doubting and protect.
What you cherish.
By destroying those who took it away from you in the first place.
The faint light that I briefly saw in front of me slowly faded away, replaced by the encroaching energy of Chaos.
One who stretches across the darkness,
what do you think you need right now?
The spirit of teamwork to work with your comrades?
The insight to see a few steps ahead?
The rationality to understand the reason for your defeat?
you don't need any of those.
They're for the ordinary—the common.
One who stretches across the darkness,
special people like you only need one thing.
Power great enough to destroy your enemies in front of you.
That's right. So, you know.
Can't you feel my power that extends across this Dark Side, making you stronger?
Your madness makes you the perfect vessel for Chaos.
"Hah hah... Hah hah hah... Mwa hah hah hah!"
Yes, just like that.
Your darkness that was blurred by light will now be deepened by the madness of Chaos.
Now, go forth and rampage.
Darkness filled with madness.
Venta stepped into the Dark Side
and immediately felt Ozma's gaze upon him.
He was being watched by the energy of Chaos that was everywhere in the land.
For the first time since he burned his body with the blood of the Fierce Blood, he felt as if there was no place to hide.
Even the shadows on the ground that felt so comforting before couldn't provide him shelter.
The change came before Venta assessed the situation.
When Ozma's penetrating gaze moved away,
the energy of Chaos surged to the center of Venta's heart as if it approved of him.
Venta was only confused for a moment. Soon, he shouted for joy.
Your insignificant servant is here to serve you as your eyes!"
The energy of Chaos that had gathered in his chest slowly turned into an eye.
After a moment that felt like eternity, the eye opened itself.
Venta saw everywhere on the Dark Side.
Ozma had opened his eyes through Venta.
You're no longer insignificant.
When the voice was heard,
Venta realized he'd been born anew
as a messenger of Chaos, who would guide His enemies to Death
and deliver His messages to his allies.
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