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Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Does life exist for happiness or for purpose?
The Helgamoth Empire, the world of Mycroft.
Constantine, an elite alchemist and member serial number 0003 of the Elite Party working under the Imperial External Exploration Department, was considering that question.
It was a question often pondered upon, but only by intelligent individuals who were idling after having a bellyful meal and had seemingly entered a sagely state.
At the moment, Constantine was with his teammates, on board a warship with specialized armaments that was journeying through the Void without a horizon.
And their destination was the sealed world, the Court of Quiescence which was gradually known to all following the Ultimate Crisis.
Happiness is a simple desire, and it would be shallow to think that life exists because of it. Even so, is purpose itself not a way in which desire presents itself? Ambition, proving one’s strength, realizing one’s abilities…could the desires such as filling the stomach, having warm clothes, and being with the one you love vary in some sort of heierarchy?
The Court of Quiescence was in itself a rather distinct name, but its backdrop as a prison spoke more volumes than its name—in the world-class prison that was augmented and refined countless time over by the gods of Mycroft and almost every Legendary champion, many horrific beings that would certainly turn the cosmos upside down if let loose were restrained here.
The Black Fog, Phoenix the Void Behemoth, transcendent Chaos spawns, Evil God variant, laboratory of the Ultimate Virus…one would just have to pick any one of the beings and it would be at least be a Legend. Even if it was not some Extraordinary creature, it was something terrible like the Ultimate Virus, or indeed some other creation of a former civilization.
Even so, all of those things embodied such remarkable research value that it was simply a pity to destroy them. Hence, they were simply sealed with the strictest of measures, and then studied using the most prudent of methods.
That being said, the Elite Party had presently come to the Court of Quiescence not because their leader, Priest, held the statues as Commander Radcliffe’s apprentice, but because of Constantine the Alchemist himself.
He had come to visit a prisoner.
Whatever the case may be, do both happiness and purpose both not require ‘Self’ and being alive? To give up on Self for happiness, to give up on life for purpose…is that not folly?!
With that doubt in mind, Constantine and the others passed through nineteen strict heavy checkpoints to enter the Court of Quiescence. The world itself was said to have been jointly created by the Seven Gods and the Four Fairy Queens of Fairyland, armed with 1700 Legendary maze seals and dimensional barriers by the Legendary mages. With even Commander Radcliffe covering the outer zone of the circle with a circular portion of his own body, should things have come to the point that one of the creatures within was about to escape, he would have directly detonated the entire world across time and space before stuffing it into his black hole engine.
“So, in that sense, we are actually inside the Liege’s body?”
When Priest and Constantine were at the front desk of the prison and handing over their visitor’s permission to a Silver Fairy, Clark the Rider was picking his ears rather uncouthly in a corner. He then saw the elemental fairies of various colors and radiance, which were flying around in the corridor, and felt as if his eyes were blurring by their movements. “And why are all the personnel in this prison fairies?”
“To be precise, it is the palm of the Liege.” Wayne the Mage, who posture was in contrast prim and proper replied flatly. “I suggest that you do not behave so carefreely, since this is a place where the eyes of gods and every champion are focused.”
“It is also simple as for why all the personnel are fairies.” Clergy, who had his eyes opened even if he was meditating closed his eyes and softly said, “After various tests, the gods believed that it is impossible for any beings to corrupt the fairies unwittingly. If they tried, it would simply unfold like the one that had volunteered to join to experiment itself—after it was corrupted by the Legend of a different realm, it had forgotten in just two seconds that the other guy had kept reminding it not to tell anyone else, instead running off to brag to its companions all about that other big friend it had just made.”
“…that sounds quite reasonable.”
Elemental lifeforms certainly were without guile, although they did have astonishing patience. Rider then carefully thought that if some powerful being were to corrupt a fairy to open the locks for him, he would probably have to weather hundreds years’ worth of gossip and chatter even if it had been from a single fairy—Seven Gods above. He even remembered the real-life example of the case of a fairy, which spoke so much with the tree to the point that the tree itself became an example.
Perhaps the silver fairies would be better.
Suddenly, Alchemist’s rather tired voice spoke from the front desk, along with the hum of several of the front desk Silver Fairies activating a portal. The elf, who had appeared cheerful before, now appeared slightly dispirited, his pointy ears dropping while his entire form appeared lethargic. “It’s the teleporting, and then I’m done…thanks for coming with me.”
“Don’t think too much about it, we are teammates after all,” Priest said, clapping his hand on Alchemist’s shoulders—that was when he felt something protruding and stiff, as if living wings that had been withdrawn, but the leader was unconcerned since he had gotten used to it. “In the end, after something so important has happened to your family, we will certainly give you company as brothers.”
Constantine said nothing, but simply glanced gratefully at his teammates who were cheering him up.
Then, the portal shone and they vanished in the pale blue light.
However, the reality is that there would always be those who would abandon Self over happiness, giving up on living for purpose…why would they do that? There is no understanding it, regardless of how one would explain it.
Transported to a dark vast hall, the Elite Party looked to the center of the room which was slowly becoming transparent. Boundless radiance of energy was welling away from the edge of that transparent spot, illuminating the entire hall and allowing everyone to clearly see the being that was behind it.
It was an elf who could be called ‘handsome’ and ‘beautiful’. One who at once possessed the firmness of masculinity and the delicate aesthetic of femininity.
His body could essentially be called perfect. Even if half of his body was broken, there was a brimming vigor in the dilapidated flesh and organs. It appeared neither grotesque nor bloodthirsty, instead showing a praiseworthy and beautiful attribute with its embodiment that represented the sheer endurance of life.
It was Neuper, the Ultimate Elf.
The first Ultimate Entity in Mycroft’s history, the culprit behind a hundred thousand deaths on the Zeta Ram Installation, with half of the military base crippled and half of the fleet garrison sunk, along with the deaths of dozens of envoys from otherworld civilizations.
Afterwards, it had been defeated by Roland the Holy Knight in Northern Moldavia during its attempt to invade Mycroft’s own homeworld. But surprisingly, it did not cause major destruction or attempted to escape, but instead allowed itself to be freely captured after its defeat as both Nostradamus and Brandon rushed to the scene, sending it here to the Court of Quiescence to be hence sealed.
Noticing that the seal over itself was released slightly, the Ultimate Elf opened its eyes slightly, revealing clear azure gem radiance that resembled the ripples on a watery surface. It looked towards the Elite Party in front of itself, making a puzzled expression.
“Constantine?” It asked in curiosity. “Why are you here?”
Taking a step forward, Alchemist, whose entire face had been filled with melancholy, shook his head in slight disgust. “To be frank, I don’t know at all whether you, monster, could still be considered my cousin. Even so, for the sake of my aunt and uncle’s earnest beseech, I will call you that for the time being.”
“All they’re wanting to know now is how that poor cousin of mine became a monster, whether it had been painful when the son they had raised for so many years was being eaten away, and what were his thoughts in his moments of death.”
The Ultimate Crisis had forced every person on the world of Mycroft to be evacuated to Shelter realms. It certainly had raised suspicion amongst citizens, given that it was a major countermeasure—to prevent public hysteria, the united governments of Mycroft made certain information regarding the Ultimate Virus public, which included the corrupting virus that created Ultimate Entities.
When Constantine learned that his rather loosely acquainted cousin had suddenly became a violent monster with the blood of several hundred thousand people on its hands, his sheer shock was no lesser than that of Neuper’s own parents. He remembered that the cousin had been clever, prudent, knew his own place, and had always been able to refuse seduction… even if it was the Ultimate Virus’s corruption, he would never have gone down so quietly, in the very least resisting.
Why? Why could it still lurk for so long after it had become an Ultimate Entity? Why—why would it not flee right after its defeat, instead leaving itself to be freely captured and then sealed so easily?
Did it not clearly have the power to run away? Even if he had become a monster, it should have chosen the future where its survival was most likely, and not to be restrained like this, slowly dying.
Constantine had questions in his mind that he wanted answers for, which was why he agreed to the request from Neuper’s parents and sought out Commander Radcliffe to submit his request to visit the Court of Quiescence to see his ‘cousin’—all on his own will.
Then, he would wait for his answer.
“…Of course I am still Neuper. All of you seem to have a knack of claiming that Ultimate Entities are monsters replacing the original, when there is, in fact, no difference between the Ultimate Entity and the so-called corrupted. The Ultimate Virus is simply a series of programming, data, and messages.”
The Ultimate Elf smiled in response to Constantine, its voice wafting through the transparent seal. “How I should put it? It is similar to learning something new: after learning about corresponding social knowledge, a youth who has once been ignorant of it would have a brand new view of the world itself. Even when it comes to things that he once ‘liked’ or ‘disliked’, he would have an entirely new perspective and reaction—it is a change that is essentially the person swapped for another.”
“Let’s have another example: there would assuredly be many dissimilarities in an individual between childhood and adulthood… could it be that following the gaining of new knowledge or the change of mindset, you are no longer yourself? Could the person you were when you were younger and the person you are when you get older not be the same? Ah… perhaps that would truly be the case for certain people who enjoy spouting lines like ‘The old me is dead. The one you see now is a whole-new me!’, although nobody would ever consider them monsters.”
People would always change. So why would the Ultimate Growth be considered a mutation?
Be that as it may, Neuper did not actually try to convince the other.
Even if it was being kept alive, every single bodily function of Neuper the Ultimate Enity was fully sealed. Now, its permission to speak at the moment in lieu of obtaining information was only granted through the permission of authorities.
The Ultimate Elf was smiling cheerfully as he had done before. “Although I was absolutely unaware that I was infected, there is no question that I have chosen the path of Ultimate Growth myself, when I learned of what it would bring me when I was inside the cocoon.”
It was not lying—nor could it lie. Such was fact, with the flickering divine spell of Truth proving it.
“In fact, because I have profound understanding of our own civilization, I know that I can only briefly run free. That is why I simply surrendered when I was beaten: resistance was futile.”
“—Did it just say ‘our civilization’?” Rider whispered, only to be silenced by Caster and Priest—after all, they were here keeping a friend company, and it was still essentially a private family matter for Constantine.
And now, Constantine himself appeared even more doubtful, and could not stop himself from pressing, “No, doesn’t that make no sense? You do know that the Self of humans is fragile. Being injected with substantial information is therefore brainwashing, not learning! You do know that, so why would you choose Ultimate Growth?!”
“Because I know that it’s the one possibility through which I would obtain happiness,” Neuper replied straightforwardly and calmly without holding back, its beautiful—almost devilish features showing a calm expression. “Cousin, you should not be thinking in such absolutes when you have not been touched by the Ultimate Virus. No more than a few would resist such temptation, since those who could maintain their Self against it are only those who are stronger that it, meaning they would at least be Supreme.”
“Wait, were you not happy before this?” Constantine replied, taken aback. “Your family, your friends, those who loved you, and those whom you loved—you even enjoy a good, leisurely job and a superior who treated you well. Neuper, to say that it was unhappiness, have you lost all sanity?!”
“Is the blood of the elves not good enough? The talent to ascend as Legends, the finest ability to adapt, a long life and elegance in appearance…you are even the one with the finest talent in our own clan. Would you not have become a druid if you had so chosen? So, why had you changed every organ your parents blessed you with on a whim, replacing the flesh that the heavens gifted and squandered your perfect innateness?”
This time, however, Neuper answered Constantine’s question with a question, shaking his head slightly. “Your parents have even complained more than once that you don’t love them, that your actions in wildly replacing your body parts and bloodline is actually a sign that you do not cherish the elven race. They think that, when all is said and done, you are callous and cold, an insane traitor. On the other hand, I know that you are no such person…it is just that the happiness you desire is simply different from the happiness that most others would desire.”
Alchemist could not help but clench both fists as soon those words left the mouth of Neuper the Ultimate Entity.
Behind his friend, Priest could hear that the thump of Constantine’s heartbeats that were gradually becoming louder and deafening. The Heart of Tarrasque was rapidly stirring, a sign of its owner’s agitation.
“My happiness is actually very simple: I want to become powerful.”
Neuper, however, ignored Constantine’s own agitation and continued serenely, “I would be the champion who would reach both heaven and earth, a champion who can enter and leave the Void, a champion who can head to other worlds and be free. This isn’t a warped thought planted in my head after being infected, but an ambition hidden deep within myself—it is just that I was too clever, that I knew my place, and that I simply lacked the talent. That is why I couldn’t be as you are now, cousin. You were able to give up on your innate talents and still shine in such splendor in other aspects, even becoming a member of the famous Exploration Party. You would never know how much I had envied you, just like how you would believe that my happiness is without comparison.”
In itself, happiness was a twofold satisfaction in the physical and spiritual aspects.
In itself, purpose was the process in which the will of the Self was being ‘accomplished’ and ‘obeyed’.
“Distorting my Self, and allow myself to be infected by the Ultimate Virus? With happiness, that trade was just too worthwhile. I experienced the sensation of power. I could move freely in the Void, darting through the vast, borderless Multiverse…by the gods, it was in that single moment when I had seen the light of the Mana Tide wrapping around me, when I had seen the stars flickered as if all of them were gazing upon me, that I felt truly alive. You would never understand that feeling of wanting cry and scream in exhilaration.”
Within the confines of its seal, the Ultimate Elf displayed an expression of satisfaction. It appeared that it had truly experienced bliss then that there was such great contentedness even as it recalled that moment here and now, in the Court of Quiescence.
“I am already dead to others? So be it.”
“I am no longer myself to others? So be it.”
“This world is filled with the people who are dead men walking, people who live lives in unhappiness or in the absence of purpose. I would never become one of them.”
“It was such happiness that I wanted to share it with my parents. I know that my father loved exploring the seas and my mother enjoyed the view from atop mountains, and yet they would remain in the forests and inside Mycroft all their lives, only watching the vast Multiverse in envy without visiting it themselves…Constantine, what you’ve mentioned is fake happiness, while I seek my truest ambition.”
Left in shock, Constantine subconsciously looked at his hand—the arm which had been modified into a suction pad form with psionic link functions.
Whose body could have been more guilty of mutation than his own?
Even the Lifetree did not consider him an elf.
Even his parents felt that he had abandoned his own race.
Compared to Neuper, who was it actually who had given up on Self?
Were both of them identical monsters who willingly gave up on their Self for their own happiness?
“But…why didn’t you run?” Constantine ask, revealing his doubt that lingered even now. “It’s clear that you could’ve done it. Why didn’t you try?”
“Because I knew that I had done wrong and so, had to be punished. If resistance had failed, I would simply have faced death in peace. One way or another, my life has no regrets after having made true my ambition. If I could offer some value to the Mycroft civilization to make amends for my sins, then take it. This is a personal choice of ‘Neuper’ as well.”
Even until the very end, the beast was infinitely assured as it mouthed every word. “Lastly, cousin Constantine—if my parents would still want to know if Neuper had been in pain in his final moments, tell them that ‘Neuper’ has finally obtained the happiness he pursued. When most others are not even sure what on earth they seek or what their purpose in life is, he has become beast and found the first ambition he ever had.”
“Though it may have been a brief few days, he has finally reached the future he was unable to touch all his life, fulfilling an ambition he would otherwise never have been able to fulfill in life. He has witnessed the vastness of the Void and seen the profoundness of the stars. He is hence moved, and has actually laughed so hard to the point of tearing up.”
“Compared to that, ‘Ego’ and ‘Life’ are insignificant, frivolous things.”
The hundreds of thousands who had perished in the process where it became the sublime was even more unimportant. While it knew that it was wrong, even feeling guilt over it, it would not hesitate to do it.
“For I am a being and beast of selfishness. For the sake of happiness, I willingly give up on my Self and life.”
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