Chapter 324: THE GUARDIAN (2)Ending Maker

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I’m finally back. To those who are not aware, my covid symptoms recurred last week so I had to take a break. I am fine now, so I’m back to my EM translations.


EPISODE 324 – THE GUARDIAN (2)

An endless black and dark space was inside the flaming door.

The sky and the ground were mixed together and indistinguishable, and one could feel overwhelmed by the silence created by the stillness of the place.

So it was more conspicuous.

A door shining alone in the dark.

It was not that bright and radiant.

The light seemed to be lonely and in danger of being swallowed up by the darkness at any moment.

Jude and Cordelia stepped forward and tightened the grip on their hands.

Upon closer inspection, the white door was bigger than they thought.

“It’s the Sun Door.”

Cordelia nodded at Jude’s words. It was the Sun Door that they had seen several times in the game and in their present lives.

“A precarious white…”

Jude uttered low and opened their space expansion bag. Then, just like when they discovered the fourth slate, the slates began to automatically shine.

“Let’s fit it in the holes.”

Jude handed Cordelia two slates, and she nodded as she looked back at the Sun Door. There were four holes under the symbol of Solari in the center, and the holes were triangular in shape like the slates.

“As expected, it’s shaped like a star.”

The five corners of a pentagram.

The reason why there were only four holes was because one of them had already been filled.

Perhaps it was the fifth slate.

“I’ll put it in first.”

When Jude put the slate into the hole, he felt a pulling force like that of a magnet.

The force on the second slate seemed stronger, and the light emitted by the door itself became stronger whenever a new slate was inserted.

From a precarious white to a blazing gold.

To a light that led to the glory of the morning.

Cordelia swallowed hard and put her share of the slates into the holes.

Every time the slates were inserted, the light in Cordelia’s halo and wings also responded.

And finally, when all the four slates were in place.

The dazzling light from the Sun Gate not only drove away the darkness but swallowed it instead. The surroundings were filled with light.

“Solari…”

The archangel of the sun.

A kind woman revered as the sun goddess by the humans of Pleiades.

The door opened.

Beyond the golden Sun Gate, darkness unexpectedly spread again.

A time when light and darkness coexisted.

A red sunset and purple sky. Small stars that opened their eyes one by one from far away.

It felt unreal to have come all the way here.

Jude gently released his hold on Cordelia’s hand and walked ahead. As if to protect Cordelia from any danger, he covered her with his body and entered the door.

It was an unfamiliar yet familiar space.

There were similarities among the temples of the Solari denomination.

The light of the sunset shone through the pillars, illuminating the white floor and ceiling.

Letters engraved in gold were all over the place.

“Beautiful.”

Cordelia softly spoke in admiration, and Jude turned his gaze.

He stared at the sculpture of Solari in the center of the temple.

It was not the usual sculpture of Solari holding her sword high and encouraging everyone to fight.

Solari was sitting down with all her six wings hanging down. On her lap was a fully armed knight in sacred armor lying down as if being embraced by Solari who let him rest.

“Pieta.”

A pose similar to Michelangelo’s masterpiece.

Jude muttered low and proceeded towards the statue of Solari. It was clear that the man in her arms was Gallus.

“It’s big.”

Looking closely, it was not a life-sized statue. Despite sitting down, Solari’s statue seemed to be five meters high.

“You’ve finally arrived.”

Jude and Cordelia looked in front with a bewildered expression at the smooth and low voice.

A handsome man stood under the statue of Solari.

He had black hair, wide shoulders, and a great physique.

He was wearing a robe that priests commonly wore, but he was clearly a warrior.

“It’s a pleasure to meet the champion of the sun, Gallus.”

As Jude and Cordelia politely bowed and greeted him, the handsome man – Gallus, awkwardly smiled.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you too. And you don’t have to be so polite. I’m only a phantasm left here to guard the tomb.”

He had spoken that, but he did not have a proper self.

Even his expression of ‘finally’ was just a conventional greeting as it was difficult to say if he had actually been waiting.

However, Jude and Cordelia maintained a respectful attitude instead of being frivolous, and Gallus’ phantasm continued with a bitter smile.

“Those who have come to this place by gathering the slates. As you already know, this is my tomb. At the same time, this is also the final doorway to the denomination’s greatest treasure.”

The last treasure of the denomination.

It made even the tomb of that great champion Gallus into only being an intermediate stage to that treasure.

They could guess something from that.

There were two things that the denomination considered precious – the Solar Blade and the Divine Sword Claíomh Solais, and those two were already out of this world, so one could narrow it down further.

But Jude listened to Gallus instead of saying it.

Because in the tombs of his disciples where the slates had been hidden until now, angels appeared and guarded it just like the tombs of holy warriors, but Gallus’ phantasm had appeared here now, implying that this was different from the previous ones.

The slates had already been collected.

There were no Tomb Guardians who attacked anyone that approached the slates.

Therefore, he could only think of one case.

“I will give you a test to see if you can be entrusted with the treasure of the denomination, or if you have the power and qualifications to do so.”

His words were as expected. It was a cliché development in games or novels.

‘The question is, what is the test?’

If it was a test that asked them to interpret the doctrines of the denomination, Jude and Cordelia would have a really hard time.

[What are you thinking about? It will probably be a fight, right?]

Cordelia sent a message with a lighthearted expression, but Jude narrowed his brows.

[But you never know.]

[It will be fine, it will be fine. He’s just testing our strength. Then it will definitely be a battle. Maybe we’ll be fighting Gallus.]

On the contrary, Cordelia gripped Moonlight and smiled as though it was a win-win situation, and Jude sighed.

Because he thought that Cordelia whose eyes were burning with fighting spirit was very beautiful and lovely.

[What a serious case. You’re seriously ill.]

Jude humbly accepted Valencia’s remarks and suppressed his desire to hug Cordelia’s waist as he turned to Gallus’ phantasm again.

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“Only one person can take the test. If that person passes, the other who came with them will also pass, and if that person fails, that is the end. You will not be given a second chance.”

Cordelia frowned at his resolute declaration as though it was unexpected. This kind of test was originally based on infinite retries. But it was only once and only one person could take it.

“Who are we going to fight?”

In response to the question of Cordelia who already concluded that a test equals a battle, Gallus said with a faint smile.

“It will depend on who is taking the test. Who among you two will take it?”

Depending on the participant, the opponent would change.

Perhaps it was a structure wherein an opponent who could stab one’s weakness would come out.

[If it’s really like that, there’s no point in using our brains.]

No matter who took the test, their weaknesses would be targeted.

Cordelia bit her lips and grumbled a little, and Jude held her hand as he said.

“I’ll do it.”

Given the circumstances, it was highly likely a one-on-one battle, and the one who specialized in one-on-one combat among the two was Jude.

Cordelia specialized in fighting against a large number of enemies, just like in the game.

“Huu… it can’t be helped. Don’t get hurt, okay?”

“You know how strong I am, right?”

I’m sure you’ve felt tired and exhausted for the past two days.

When Jude winked at her teasingly, the blushing Cordelia kicked him before looking back at Gallus’ phantasm.

“He will be taking it.”

“Is that so?”

The moment Gallus’ phantasm smiled, the entire temple was transformed.

The statue of Solari was pushed all the way to the end of the temple as if it was originally an illusion and not reality, and a huge arena soared at the center in replacement.

The large square arena appeared to be at least several tens of meters in width and length.

It looked to be around a meter high.

“Those who will take the test, please go up the arena. The strongest swordsman whom you remember will test you.”

Gallus’ words were a little surprising.

The test would be against a swordsman and not about their weakness.

But that did not mean his opponent would be easy to defeat.

‘The strongest swordsman I remember?’

In other words, one of the strongest swordsman Jude himself knew.

‘I don’t think it’s Master Landius.’

He’s the strongest swordsman I know, but I never thought of him as a swordsman.

Then, is it either Kamael or Valencia?

[There’s a high chance that I will appear.]

Valencia’s words contained no laughter. She genuinely seemed to think so.

[Kamael… he possesses the ability to be called a Ghostblade, but he had not yet reached the sword horizon.]

So was Valencia herself.

However, Jude had a slightly different idea.

‘But I have never fought Valencia-nim properly… so perhaps Elune or First Sword will appear.’

In fact, the possibility of it being Elune was low.

But it was quite possible if it was First Sword.

The First Sword he faced in the battle at the royal capital was despair itself for Jude at that time.

“Do well regardless of who will appear. As I’ve said before, don’t get hurt, okay? If you do, just immediately surrender or jump out of the arena, okay?”

Because this was reality and not a game.

Nodding his head to Cordelia’s worried request, Jude reached out to his beloved. He hugged Cordelia and kissed her lips, whispering softly.

“I’ll be back.”

“Go and come back. And when you return… let’s continue.”

It was her own way of cheering.

Melissa and Valencia simultaneously expressed their frustrations at the blushing Cordelia’s words, but Jude smiled.

After kissing again the forehead of his very lovely fiancée, he headed to the arena.

The sky changed.

It changed from sunset to dusk, the time just before nightfall.

The wind blew.

Darkness surrounded the arena, and light gathered across Jude as it formed a human figure.

‘First of all, it’s a man.’

It was tall. Although he was smaller than Jude himself, the man was still in the mid to late 180 cm in height.

He had black hair and wore a black mask that partially covered his eyes and nose. He also had a long sword on his waist.

He wore light armor. His clothes were all black without any particular decorations.

‘Who is he?’

Kamael is not that big. The man’s physique is similar to First Sword, but their atmosphere is completely different.

It’s definitely not Elune and Valencia since they are women.

The strongest swordsman I can remember.

Who is he? Does that also include my memories from my past life?

Then, if I include the characters from Legend of Heroes 3 that I have never met in my present life…

[My successor!]

At the same time as Valencia’s cry resounded, a light flashed in his eyes.

The moment the black-masked man pulled out his sword, his distance of more than ten meters away became zero.

Jude blocked it.

He had moved his sword-like hand.

He adjusted the position of his arm according to the angle at which the sword was pushed.

But he was pushed hard.

He thought that the man’s sword would slide along his sword-like hand, but the sword’s angle suddenly changed and came in from an unexpected place.

“Kuh?!”

Jude hurriedly retreated but his opponent did not wait for him. He kicked the ground to track Jude down.

[My successor!]

Jude knew it too. He immediately unleased the power of the Ninth Heaven’s Nine Doors. As if it was the turning of gears, the first door up to the seventh door were opened in succession, emitting powerful waves in a row.

Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!

The shockwaves shook the space. It was strong enough to push the black masked man away.

But the man was not fully pushed back.

At the moment Jude unleased the power of the seventh door, the man swung his sword. He cut the shockwave itself apart.

“Ha!”

Jude used Black Lightning Covers the Sky in that instant. It was not a choice to defend his rear but to widen his distance from the man.

Boom!

Black lightning struck. Dozens of it covered the sky.

Even Elune could not exactly figure out where Jude who used the Black Lightning Covers the Sky would move. All she could do was capture and confront the moment when Jude swung his sword.

However, the man with the black mask was different.

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When the black lightning struck, he had already turned his gaze. He saw precisely the path that Jude had chosen and rushed forward.

It was something incredible.

As soon as he arrived near Jude, Jude hurriedly swung his sword-like hand to block the man’s approach.

Jude’s sword attack split the sky. And the man swung his sword again. Instead of confronting Jude’s sword attack with the attack he previously used, he cut through the air and destroyed it. Jude’s sword attack scattered and disappeared at once as if it did not exist from the beginning.

How he did that.

Valencia knew.

The fact that the man saw through the Black Lightning Covers the Sky at once and that he cut through the air and destroyed the sword attack all suggested one possibility.

No, Valencia was sure of it.

[He has reached the sword horizon!]

It made sense. That he had reached the horizon.

The man in front of Jude was not looking at the horizon but had actually reached it.

[My successor!]

Boom!

The Black Lightning Covers the Sky burst once more. If it had been the usual Jude, he would have rushed in the direction of the black masked man to catch him off guard, but he could not do it this time.

His opponent could see through the Black Lightning Covers the Sky.

The moment he rushed in, his opponent would clearly cut his back.

‘Let’s be calm.’

Let’s calm down.

Jude accelerated his thinking. He split the short time he had and created some time to think.

He had never fought an opponent who had reached the sword horizon.

His match against Valencia was literally just a match.

Therefore, Jude focused on the information.

First of all, it was necessary to accurately grasp the opponent.

Someone who reached the sword horizon.

Black hair.

Mid to late 180 cm.

That was it.

Jude stopped breathing for a moment.

It was not because he landed on the ground. It was not because the black masked man who had seen through the Black Lightning Covers the Sky flew straight towards him either.

‘Demon Bane?!’

A divine sword that had a completely silver blade.

A treasure item that Jude himself handed over to Lucas.

But there was something even more surprising. It was the swordsmanship style, and not the man’s sword attacks, that froze Jude’s mind for a moment.

‘The Sword of Wind.’

He never saw much of it.

But he knew.

It was clearly the Sword of Wind that was passed down to the members of the Bayer family.

But how?

Are you saying that he’s my father? Or my older brother?

It was neither of them.

Instead of wielding his sword-like hand, Jude recklessly released the energy of the black dragon. The black masked man crushed the energy of the black dragon with an elegant sword strike, but Jude did not care. He roughly breathed and shouted.

“Valencia!”

Bang!

A light flashed from behind Jude’s back. Dragon Sword Ascalon that had been silent until now shone with a brilliant light.

It was Valencia.

She had borrowed the power of Jude to control Ascalon. It was a kind of remote sword manipulation.

Crackle!

Ascalon rushed towards the black masked man with a fierce light.

However, Valencia’s skills could not be fully demonstrated.

Ascalon that had been charging with momentum had no choice but to switch from offensive to defensive in just a few seconds.

But that was fine. Jude did not just watch. He penetrated the gap created by Valencia and used the Sword of Wind.

Wind and Lightning Flurry Strikes.

The man in the black mask saw it.

It was right after exchanging attacks with Valencia, so he could not stop the attack of Jude. But he understood. Jude’s sword attack would not reach him who had reached the sword horizon.

Bababababababang-!

A series of storming strikes split the air.

The black masked man nullified the Wind and Lightning Flurry Strikes with minimal movement.

He avoided the first five moves and received the last seven moves with his sword.

In the final strike, he released a similar sword attack to exactly offset it.

Babababang!

For the first time since he became one with Sword Origin, Jude’s arms were stained with blood.

Jude was greatly pushed back, and Ascalon that was controlled by Valencia also flew away and rolled over the ground.

However, the black masked man was also not in perfect condition.

It was because of Jude’s sudden release of the energy of the black dragon at the moment they exchanged their final strikes.

The man’s clothes were torn everywhere.

The black mask was also partly broken.

Jude exhaled and looked at the man.

Instead of raising his sword again as he had done before, the man raised his hand and took off his broken mask.

His black hair scattered, revealing his face.

It was Jude Bayer.

It was Jude’s own face.

The real Jude could not understand.

Gallus definitely said that his opponent would be the strongest swordsman Jude remembered.

So who the hell was that Jude?

Was he Kang Jin-ho’s memory of the Jude from Legend of Heroes 2?

He was not.

The Jude from Legend of Heroes 2 did not reach the sword horizon.

He also did not use the Sword of Wind.

Then who was he?

Did Gallus tell him a lie?

Jude took a deep breath. Valencia focused her mind.

And right afterwards.

The black masked man – the other Jude, extended his sword. He took a step forward and spoke words that would put Jude and Valencia, as well as Cordelia who was watching outside the arena, into despair.

“Ninth Heaven’s Nine Doors.”

The divine martial art of the transcendent being.

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The other Jude opened the doors.

The arena as well as the entire temple were covered with black energy.

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