Chapter 313 The Battle of the Soul
She hadn’t felt such a warm sunshine in a long time.
Garcia stood in the garden and took in a deep breath, inhaling the smell of rosemary coming along the breeze.
This was no longer the Kingdom of Eternal Winter; besides the forever frozen soil and the non-aromatic Winterflower, that country in the extreme north really had nothing to offer. Within that castle’s backyard, lumps of meat and pig guts would always be hung out to dry in the open air, making it impossible to get rid of the awful smell. This place was also not the Port of Clear Water, with its familiar taste of salt and its moist air, where if she closed her eyes, she could hear waves breaking over the beach.
This is the palace of Graycastle, she thought.
But… its appearance was somewhat different from what she remembered.
Garcia sat down at the central flowered pond, gently caressing the slightly rough rocks – back in her childhood, while playing hide-and-seek, she had fallen to the ground and fiercely hit her head against the stones on the side of the flower pond. Since then her father had ordered for all the stones to be broken into small pebbles. As a result, it was then impossible to hurt oneself when stumbling, but it had also become impossible to hide oneself behind them.
At that time, she remembered, that besides herself, Gerald and Timothy had also been present. Seeing their younger sister fall down both of them had become very frightened. To coax her to stop her sobbing, one by one they’d made themselves fall and deliberately knocked their head against the stones at the side of the pond. Of course, afterward, they were ruthlessly beaten up by their father.
It was a period in her life that Garcia thought she would never recall again. It was like a secret hidden beneath a tree, deeply buried in the earth. But now that she's returned to this familiar place, she discovered that the scenery hasn’t faded in the slightest. After digging it out of the earth, it still appeared just as vivid and lifelike as in the past.
It seemed as if everything has returned back to the time in her childhood.
"As it turns out, this is your world," an unknown voice sounded from behind her, "As a resting place, it’s a pretty good choice.”
Garcia turned around, and saw a woman dressed in white coming from the direction of the flowered pond. She had a pair of light red eyes and long, snow white hair, her facial features were so delicate that they seemed to have been carved, and her voice was ethereal and melodious, all in all she was like a god who had fallen into the mortal world.
The face of the Queen of Clear Water completely darkened as she stated, "You are the Church's witch.”
"My name is Zero, the word ‘witch’ doesn’t suit me," she laughed. "I’m called a ‘Purified’. My blood, and that of those fallen, is entirely different."
"A Purified? That’s just the term the Church uses for the toys they’ve raised," Garcia said coldly, "What kind of trick is this scenery? Does your ability allows you to create illusions?" She suddenly picked up a stone and squeezed it in her hand. “It’s just an illusion! None of this will fool me!”
The Queen’s cry traveled far, but the scenery remained entirely unaffected. When she opened her hand, she saw that the stone in her hand wasn’t crushed, instead, her skin was cut by its hard edges and corners. The pain bursting from the wound seemed clear and real.
"It appears that you aren’t completely unaware of witch abilities. That makes things much easier," Zero grasped the hem of her skirt and gave a slight bow, "Welcome to the World of Consciousness, I call this place the Battlefield of Souls. It is here where we will carry out our fight. The winner gets everything, the loser loses all... Just as God proclaims in the Holy Book.”
Garcia stared blankly, trying to digest what she had just heard when she suddenly felt a sharp pain coming from her lung. She didn’t know from where the pike had come, but somehow Zero had had directly thrust it into her chest. Her breathing immediately turned heavy, when she tried to open her mouth and shout, not even the smallest of sounds came out. Meanwhile, Zero turned the pike around and fiercely pulled it back, blood came spraying out of the wound, soon covering half of her body. Garcia sank to her knees, trembling as she tried to cover her wounds, but due to the enormous blood loss, her consciousness had already began to blur.
The next moment she found herself standing at her former place in perfect condition. The shadows standing a few meters away from her, as she had never left her place to begin with.
What happened? Garcia opened her mouth wide, taking in a deep breath, an illusion? Her hands were still fiercely pressing against her chest, and she could still feel an aching pain at the place the wound from a moment ago had been. Lowering her head, she saw a large spray of blood scattered around her feet.
"This is the basic rule. One’s consciousness isn’t immortal," Zero explained, spreading out her hands, "The pain of every death will feel real to you. It will slowly consume your mental and physical strength, and when this sense exceeds your limits it will be time for your eternal rest.
"Every time you die, your body will return to its original state. An average person can withstand at most three to four times, of course, I have also seen a lot of determined individuals who managed to go through seven, eight, or even more deaths,” She explained gently. ”Although I am looking forward to your performance, I can also understand if you give up. After all, the feeling of continuous death is an unbearable suffering. At this point, choosing to escape isn’t a cowardly behavior, especially when the outcome has already been decided.”
Finished speaking with the dropped pike in her hand and a great sword on her back she leaped forward and tried splitting Garcia apart.
The latter stared with wide open eyes, she is wearing a white gown, there is no way for her to hide such a huge weapon. All these weapons are... coming out of thin air? Suddenly the other’s words reappeared in her mind –
"This is your world..."
"I call it the Battlefield of Souls."
"One’s consciousness isn’t immortal... everything is real to you."
The great sword chopped down, but instead of cutting the former Queen of Clear Water in two, it slammed against a huge iron shield. Confronted with the huge unexpected rebound, Zero lost her grip on the sword as it flew into the air, at the same time her body was also forced a few steps back. Garcia, because of the great strength she’d used to deflect the heavy blow, fell to the ground.
"The end is already destined?" She ground her teeth and sneered, "Previously you said this is ‘my world’, didn’t you?” The moment the words fell, she popped up, and a crossbow suddenly appeared in her hand immediately releasing the arrow at Zero. Simultaneously a crucifix raised up behind her and firmly trapped her body.
In a flash the crossbow arrow drilled into the abdomen of the Purified, immediately causing a suffering expression to appear on her face. After gasping twice, Zero opened her mouth, "Th-that surprised me... cough cough, as an ordinary person... just accepting this is already very hard, n-not to mention using your own consciousness to retaliate. You just proved… why the Queen of Clear Water is able to cause Mayne so many headaches.”
"Thank you very much for your praise," Garcia said while picking up the spear that had fallen on the ground. "If it weren’t for you talking too much I would never have been able to comprehend the wonders of the World of Consciousness so quickly. Now, should I put some more holes in you?"
Zero laughed challengingly, "For now, I’ll let you do as you like.”
When Garcia stabbed her for the tenth time, the Purified finally died – she had deliberately avoided piercing any of the fatal points, slowly moving from the hands and feet toward the abdomen. At first the Purified had cried out miserably, but later on her voice had gradually started to break.
Next, that animal should be restored to her original state, right? However, this is the palace of Graycastle, it’s my home ground. Since it is possible to change the environment and objects at will, I cannot lose.
Sure enough, the body of the Purified flashed in a white light. In the blink of an eye, all of her wounds had disappeared, and Zero once again opened her light red eyes.
Garcia lifted the pike, readying to send her to her death once again, but suddenly everything changed – the hands bound to the crucifix easily broke the rope, kicked against the pike, then instantly appeared at Garcia’s side and delivered a strike with her raised hand. Before Garcia could respond, she had already lost sense of her body.
With a loud bang the headless body collapsed, yet the other’s hands were still empty.
How can this be?
After her restoration, the Queen of Clear Water clutched her neck and took two steps back and felt somewhat uncertain... Just now, did she use her empty hands to cut off my neck? Seeing the broken hemp rope and the blood on her hands, it became apparent that the previous scene hadn’t been an illusion.
"If you couldn’t understand the nature of the World of Consciousness, how could I get a real fight?" Zero smiled and said, "You seem very puzzled about how I got my hands out of the thick rope, isn’t that right? In fact, this isn’t so difficult to understand, ‘The winner gets everything, the loser loses all’... Among those people whom I’ve swallowed, there is a class of witches who are unusually powerful. Their might is boundless, their body is nimble, and they don’t need to fear the effect of the God’s Stone of Retaliation. You might not know of them, but the Church has a particular term for them - Extraordinary.
She opened her hands, "It is impossible to beat me by only using common methods. If you want to survive, you will have to double your effort... Now, it’s my turn."
TN: Many thanks to Zackarotto for creating the full list of characters.
Previous Chapter Next Chapter