Rhode looked up and the tremendous pain in his head vanished almost instantly. Then, he realized that something was amiss. It was no longer the dark tunnel before him. Instead, strong gales brushed against his face and beneath his feet was a leveled brick tower. A desolate wilderness could be seen in the distance. But... it was entirely different this time.
The clouds that covered the horizon shifted quickly in the winds and through their gaps, Rhode witnessed the silhouette of an enormous building. He looked down and saw a figure that he had expected.
The little girl stood before him. But unlike the gentle and calm 'Christie' he knew, this time, she appeared unprecedentedly stern and uncertain. She gazed at Rhode, turned around, and pointed ahead. Along with her actions, the thick layers of clouds rolled apart to both sides. Then, dazzling sunlight spilled through.
In an instant, the world before him transformed.
In the past, he had come to this place in his dreams twice. But the impression that he had of this world was particularly desolate. The barren land and withered trees were as though shriveled, lifeless bones standing on a dead desert and there was nothing else apart from this tower...
But now, Rhode finally witnessed the other side of this world.
The gentle moonlight filtered through the clouds and set a soft brilliance to this originally dimmed world. The azure sky dazzled and thick black clouds turned into fluffy white clouds. Fresh, rejuvenated greenery filled the dried up land. However, this wasn't what surprised him the most. After the clouds dispersed, he was baffled to find a towering, majestic city hovering above! Its buildings slowly drifted through the night sky and the entire view of this city resembled one in a dreamy painting-glorious and honorable as it merged with the starry sky as one.
But this beautiful painting transformed at the next moment.
Rows of illusory, translucent soldiers emerged in the distance with their weapons raised. They took on a square-shaped formation and marched ahead sternly. Then, the ground shook.
Rhode looked down and discovered that black waves had crashed from the horizon, devouring and engulfing everything in their path. The soldiers resisted the waves, but were eventually submerged within. The black waves of rage gushed their way into the tower beneath him.
The impact shook his footing. Then, Christie turned around, gazed at him with mournful eyes, and spoke.
"... I need your help... Rhode..."
Rhode opened his eyes abruptly.
It was Lize's worried expression. He lifted his head and saw Christie in Anne's arms. She had closed her eyes as though in a coma. He stuck his hand out to feel her constant breathing and heaved a sigh of relief. Then, he stood up and shook his head.
"I'm fine... Is everyone okay?"
"We're fine, but Christie..."
Lize gazed at Christie anxiously. She placed her hand on the little girl and her palm glowed a radiance that enveloped her entirely. Christie's pale complexion instantly turned better, but didn't seem to be waking up anytime soon.
"Sir Overlord, are you okay?"
At this moment, Sovann came up to them and asked. He was stunned when Rhode and Christie fainted out of a sudden. Fortunately, it only took awhile before Rhode restored his senses fully. But Sovann was astonished that Rhode gazed at him with knitted brows.
"Sovann, if I recall correctly, you need to have the staff to receive your ancestors' inheritance. Am I right?"
Even though Sovann didn't know why Rhode asked this question now, he nodded firmly.
"Alright. Can you tell me exactly how you will receive the inheritance?"
Sovann was hesitant. After all, this was their absolute secret. But now, since Rhode was his master in name and it didn't seem like he was only asking out of curiosity, Sovann braced himself and answered.
"... We aren't too sure about it either. According to the legend, the fated person who holds the inheritance symbol will take on the spiritual path. They will follow the ancestors into their eternal resting place, receive their blessings, and eventually be recognized..."
Sovann explained and quickly realized Rhode's sulk.
Rhode finally understood the ins and outs of this mission.
An eternal resting place? In the entire Dragon Soul Continent, the only place worthy to be named as an eternal resting place for the heroes was the Astral Temple in the Seven Fantasy Boundaries! It was a place that gathered all the heroic spirits on this continent after their death. Rhode didn't know that this was related to the Battle Mage Group. After all, only legendary heroes like the Carlesdine or high-class figures like Celestina were worthy to head into the Astral Temple. On the other hand, the Battle Mage Group? Ha. Despite their formidable strength, they weren't popular in history. They had never fought in important wars or made any crucial sacrifice or contributions. This was why Rhode didn't link them up with the Astral Temple at all.
But, just a few moments ago, after receiving guidance from the other 'Christie', Rhode finally realized why the system presented mission rewards related to the Astral Temple. It was apparent that the ancestors of the Battle Mage Group weren't worthy of entering the Astral Temple, but they could still be guardians to the entrance! More importantly, based on Sovann's description, their ancestors had apparently found a communication method for the Astral Temple and the heroic spirits!
And now, the Guardian Spirits protecting the path were manipulated by the undead spells.
Rhode broke out in cold sweat. It was apparent that the Undead Creatures were attempting to unlock the seal and manipulate the channel connected to the Seven Fantasy Boundaries. Even though the heroic spirits in the Astral Temple were unlike elemental creatures, they still held their own persistence and honor as heroes in the past and would never listen to the Undead Creatures' commands. However, it was obvious from the fact that the Undead Creatures manipulated the Guardian Spirits to attack Rhode's group that they didn't need to request the permission of the heroic spirits in the Astral Temple. It would be enough for them as long as they summoned the heroic spirits and controlled them with undead spells!
Rhode had to admit that this was a great move from them. If they succeeded, the Eastern Plains would surely break out into chaos. No... Most importantly, Rhode's group was situated in this horrible location. If the Undead Creatures succeeded, wouldn't they be tortured to death by an army of heroic spirits?
Of course, it was still possible for them to return to the fortress with his teleportation ring. But if he missed the opportunity, who knew when he could come back to accomplish this mission.
"The situation isn't looking good. We have to hurry up."
After explaining the situation simply to everyone, Rhode quickly ordered. Sovann was terrified after learning that the Battle Mage Group's spiritual path might possibly be controlled by the Necromancers. Shortly after, everyone got ready and darted forward.
Strangely, after the 'earthquake' the Guardian Spirits who attacked Rhode's group from all directions were nowhere to be found. Even though the group felt rather relieved, they didn't slow down their pace. After a few moments, they reached the end of the tunnel under Sovann's lead where a tightly sealed stone door stood before them.
"In the name of the spiritual symbol, I request to unlock this ancient seal!"
Sovann raised the staff in his hand hurriedly. This time, the stone door finally responded as mysterious magical runes shone from it. It slowly opened and revealed the venue.
It was a huge underground plaza that could contain up to a thousand people. Surrounding the plaza were various 5-meters-tall sculptures and judging from their appearance, they seemed like incarnations of the Battle Mage Group's heroes. In the middle of the plaza, there was an altar that looked like a pyramid and the brazier at its center burned in blue flames.
"That's a spiritual flame! How is this possible? It shouldn't be ignited without the spiritual symbol!"
At this moment, the flames burned wilder, where a human silhouette emerged from within and walked out slowly.
"Hahaha... I didn't expect your return, Sovann."
Sovann stared at the figure. He never thought that he would hear this voice again.
"... It's you?"