Chapter 676: The First And Last Betrayal
Without warning, the ground began to shake.
The group who had just disembarked from the ship “Silver” immediately became serious.
“Is this place about to collapse?”
Orpheus fiddled with his harp’s strings nervously.
He looked at the female centaur Lucia, “Can you check that out, Lulu?”
[TN: Lulu is the nickname of Lucia.]
“Let me try…”
Lucia nervously trotted forward on her four hooves, extending her pristine hands forward — her nails were sharp, fair, and shiny, resembling jade pieces.
As she sorted out something in the air, her expression became more and more serious.
“Luckily, it’s not going to collapse.” She took a deep breath, “But we should be careful…”
Then, the second wave of earthquake swept across.
It was like an invisible roar—the ground remained still, and the surrounding ancient, low stone buildings were unharmed. Yet, they staggered backward as if forcefully pushed by something, their bodies instantly engulfed by a chilling cold.
That is a power fueled by hatred.
Elle’s complexion changed.
“Sorry!” Elle shouted hastily.
Celecia frowned slightly. She was about to reach out and grab Elle, but she was a moment too late—
Four iridescent light bands burst out from behind Elle—resembling a mix of oddly shaped wings, tentacles, or even indescribable appendages.
The moment the light bands appeared, she was enveloped by a colorful stream of light, transforming into a massive ethereal figure.
A strong aura of curse emanated from her, forming a vivid halo visible to the naked eye. The halo cloaked her, creating a distorted figure reminiscent of a collage — much like the witch in the barrier.
Just by looking at her, Celecia felt like she had been struck hard, her head snapping back. Meanwhile, Orpheus experienced a mild dizziness.
The centaur, with a robust perception, suffered critical damage from it.
She groaned in pain and staggered backward. Blood oozed out from her nose and mouth. Her fingernails also quickly became soaked in blood.
The next moment, the iridescent storm formed by the curse surged violently, pushing them away instantly.
The colossal figure, reminiscent of a collage, vanished swiftly before everyone’s eyes in the form of fluttering origami.
Like the contrails left by a jet plane, many distorted rainbow-colored bands of light lingered in the air, illuminating the dark underground.
Orpheus looked in Elle’s direction in shock, “A deity?”
It was as shocking as if the fluffy puppet around him suddenly turned into an enormous lion.
“I saw it. It’s one half of the Deity of Bones and Betrayal [the Venerated Skeleton].”
When Elle revealed her true self, the thread of her fate became clear.
Centaur Lucia, who could peer into fate, said with a complex expression, “Do you still remember the story she told before coming here?”
According to the rules of the Silver Brigade, those wishing to board the “Silver” to reach their destination must share a story. In other words, the reason why they wanted to go there. Only if the story sounded interesting would the Silver Brigade give the person a ride.
In the story that Elle told, her father abandoned her without warning. Elle wanted to catch up with her father to seek an answer. She recently found out that her father was heading to the ruined Elegy Dukedom—
Why was such a lovely girl abandoned?
Why did her father insist on going to the forgotten Elegy Dukedom?
This did get Celecia a little interested.
Celecia requested to “watch the whole incident until the end” to ensure she was not deceived. As compensation, they could help Elle to a certain extent.
In retrospect, Elle’s father was the Venerated Skeleton.
It made perfect sense that the Venerated Skeleton went to Elegy Dukedom.
Is it not normal for people to go back to their hometown to visit relatives?
“So, what do we do now?” The masked “Lily” couldn’t help but ask, “Should we go check it out?”
Everyone looked at each other.
On the other side…
When the Venerated Skeleton destroyed the statue of Bone Burying Grandma and the tomb behind her, a terrifying tremor began. It felt as if a giant beast underground had awakened or, like the roar of a machine, making everything around shake and rumble.
The Venerated Skeleton, who had just attacked the statue of Bone Burying Grandma, quietly looked up at the sky.
Or rather, looking at the rock formation and the city above it.
“People call my country ‘Elegy’, or the country of giants. But how many people still remember its real name?”
The old and deep voice of the Venerated Skeleton sounded, “Forgetting is a betrayal.”
The surrounding roar became more and more intense, even gradually burying the sound of the Venerated Skeleton. There was even a loud squeaking sound—like the sound of a truck when it failed to brake and drifted on the ground.
Yet, amidst the deafening noise, the calm voice of Venerated Skeleton could still be heard.
“Its true name is the [Eternal Dukedom]. But this does not mean that the citizens have eternal life. Instead, the ruler of the dukedom is known as the ‘Eternal Duke’, just like the ancestor of Austere-Winter’s Grand Duke, ‘Frostwhisper Duke’.”
“As I mentioned, giants are a race that views life and death with indifference. This broad-mindedness stems from their preparations to face the ‘inevitable end’… This ‘inevitable end’ is the ultimate point in giant philosophy.”
“However, there is a problem here… Ordinary giants indeed can prepare themselves in advance for a more serene, complete, and virtuous death. They sever past ties, forget old affections, and pass away namelessly and forgotten in a quiet, solitary corner.”
“—But, I can’t do it.”
The voice of the Venerated Skeleton was almost drowned in the rumbling noise.
The surrounding area seemed unchanged — the ground hadn’t collapsed, the tombs were intact, and even the ceiling was undamaged. Yet, the noise around had gotten louder… to the point where there were sounds of things falling and breaking.
It sounded like huge metal and wooden boxes were falling from above, cracking or shattering when they hit the ground.
At this time, the Venerated Skeleton’s voice gradually became louder.
“Why are we called the Eternal Duke? Because, as rulers, we’ve been imprisoned in this pure white armor for generations — passed down from one to the next, we all share the same name: the Eternal Duke.”
“No one knows which generation of the Eternal Duke I am, nor when the previous one died or where he was laid to rest. People don’t care about these things…”
“They pretend their leader is immortal, and everyone plays along — even though they all know that nothing truly lasts forever, and mortals cannot live eternally. Because of this belief, they don’t have to worry about succession, the continuity of decrees, the persistence of friendships, or being forgotten. They can attribute anything they need to remember to the [Eternal Duke].”
“Their Grand Duke remembers every death worth remembering. They can easily forget everything and usher in a free and unburdened death.”
The so-called [Eternal Duke] was the living tombstone of the Eternal Dukedom.
It held the stories of everyone’s fate, documenting all relationships… The only entity that was not allowed to die, not allowed to let go. It was not a person but merely an existence, a symbol.
The Venerated Skeleton said calmly, “But my fellow clansmen didn’t know one thing until they died. Of course, maybe they don’t care about it either.”
“That is… the [Eternal Duke] legacy has long ended.”
“My rule has lasted for more than 400 years, and the lifespan of a giant is 150 years. That’s because…in the 24th year of my rule, I have already altered myself to an undead. That is the very first betrayal.”
The voice of the Venerated Skeleton grew distant and faint, “For whom the so-called elegy is dedicated?
“—Yes, the elegy sings for me.”
Finally, the space began to shatter.
It wasn’t like glass shattering… but more like a seed sprouting or a chick hatching.
Something too intense to look directly at leaked out.
The iridescent and distorted “angel” from afar attacked the Venerated Skeleton without hesitation.
A stream of iridescent light emerged from the tip of the “four wings”, focusing on the Venerated Skeleton like a laser beam.
“Stop it, Father!”
Elle’s echoing voice sounded. The sharp and indistinct baby’s voice and the sweet girl’s voice sounded in the air simultaneously.
However, the laser beam failed to reach the Venerated Skeleton. It was stopped by something transparent, much like ripples of water, surrounding Him.
The moment Elle confronted the Venerated Skeleton, the surrounding space instantly boiled over.
The distorted brilliance emanated from Elle spread into the surroundings immediately.
The tomb transformed into a lively home, and the dark underground world took on the glow of a sunset. The dust on the ground turned to grass, and between the empty graves, giants began to appear.
Yet all of this seemed like a painting — fragmented and disjointed.
“Even though you’ve noticed, it’s already too late. You’ve been fooled.” The Venerated Skeleton said calmly, “Your very existence is just to be betrayed once more…”
“This is the last betrayal, Elle.”
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