Dragon Devouring Chapter 158

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EPISODE. 79

Magic was a field of study where the unknowns far outnumbered the known. As such, the moment of Awakening, the instant of enlightenment, was bound to come abruptly. With endless possibilities spreading before them, one could never predict which fork in the road might lead to a new realization. It could be, as was the case with Russell, that one’s perspective stretched out towards a landscape and was influenced by it. Perhaps enlightenment could even arrive amidst the fierce struggle between life and death.

Alan Page’s case was more akin to the latter. His moment of awakening came as he suppressed the wildly rampaging poison coursing through his body. ‘Of course, that he could grasp that moment was purely thanks to Sir Alan’s own efforts,’ one would think. Those lacking in effort could not seize their awaited moment even when it arrived.

Whoosh.

The storm of chaotic mana began to stabilize. Gone were the sharp winds that had threatened to lash out in every direction, leaving only a cool, tranquil breeze that gently circled the room. It was evidence that Alan’s condition was gradually stabilizing. Though the awakening was likely far from over.

Witnessing the spectacle, Lyman and Cassandra murmured as if entranced, “Oh, this is the sight…”

“A mage earns the right to face the threshold of a superhuman only after reaching the limits of humanity.”

Their voices echoed dreamily, unsurprising given that they themselves were mages who had reached the fifth circle. Even though this was not their personal journey, they surely valued witnessing someone else’s experiences for insights that could one day be beneficial.

To them, Russell offered advice in a low voice, “While it’s fine to take today’s event as a reference, you must be cautious not to fixate your mental image in one direction.”

“…?”

At his words, the two mages who had been gazing spellbound at Alan turned their heads. After a moment of puzzled expressions, Russell, with his arms crossed, began to explain.

“As you both know, the moment of awakening can come at any time, in any form, unforeseen by anyone. If you over-fixate on today’s events and confine your mental image to a single aspect…”

“Aha!”

Lyman and Cassandra gasped in unison. Russell needn’t finish for them to understand what he meant. After all, they too were mages who had attained privilege enough to be called high-ranking.

“So, fixating on one mental image could close off all other realms of possibility,” Cassandra stated, and Russell nodded, confirming her understanding.

Then, looking towards Alan, who was emitting a blue light, Russell suggested, “We should tell Count Rainkel to make sure no one else enters this room for now.”

The time taken for each individual’s awakening was as variable as the reasons for its occurrence. While some, like himself, could conclude in just a few hours, there were cases that took days.

It would be best if he stayed here himself, but…

‘There just isn’t enough time.’

With only a day and a few hours left until the Hydra subjugation battle, he couldn’t afford to wait.

‘If Sir Alan’s awakening concludes before then, it would be a great boon to our strength…’

But one shouldn’t count on uncertain outcomes. Receiving the news, Count Rainkel rushed over with his knights in tow, and Russell returned to his own quarters.

The early morning disturbance subsided, and the next day, Russell, waking up as usual, spent another day gathering new intelligence and adjusting tactics. ‘The number of demon beasts continues to grow…’ It was a concern, observing the increasing forces around the Hydra. Although still within manageable expectations, it couldn’t be simply overlooked.

‘Perhaps it’s recovering from its earlier injuries.’

That seemed likely, considering the Hydra would surely attack again once healed. Maybe it was gathering its monsters in the meantime to buy some time.

‘The decisive strike is at dawn tomorrow. To minimize our losses, it would be best to diminish their numbers with a concentrated magic bombardment from terrain that provides good visibility…’

While revising plans and outlining his own tasks, Russell was absorbed until news reached him that evening.

“Sir Alan has awakened!”

At the soldier’s report, Russell moved swiftly to Alan’s bedside.

‘I thought it might take several more days.’

To think he had awakened in just one day was unexpected. A smile crept onto Russell’s lips, not only at the prospect of an increased strength for their upcoming battle with the Hydra but also from joy at seeing his worthy rival, whom he’d once considered an equal, rejoining the fray.

Click, creak!

Upon reaching the bedside, Russell pushed open the door.

‘Sir Alan.’

He immediately sensed a more profound atmosphere radiating from Alan, suggesting success in forming a circle of magic.

‘Mountain of Ice.’

If his teacher, the Tower Master Hemingway Melville, evoked a vast ocean infused with massive moisture, Alan’s presence now suggested a gigantic iceberg. One that concealed nine-tenths of its mass, harboring an ancient chill.

The reason wasn’t hard to guess—Alan had always preferred ice-type over water-type magic. Water might not have been his affinity, but its derivative, ice, which aligned better with his nature.

‘Not to mention, establishing the sixth circle would have allowed him to carve his own unique path.’

5th-circle mages were one thing, but 6th-circle mages were regarded as Tower-level for having established their own ways and being capable of founding schools of thought.

The alteration was not just in his aura or temperament—his appearance had changed slightly as well. While his eyes, hidden behind thin lids, were harder to read, his hair color was evident.

‘Grey-white.’

Perhaps fighting off the poison had drained considerable mental energy, for his formerly ash-grey hair now bore a shade closer to white.

At that moment, Lyman and Cassandra arrived, slightly behind on the news, with Count Rainkel.

“Sir Alan!”

“Hearing that you had awakened, we…”

Amid their sudden arrival, Alan turned.

“…Sir Russell.”

With a parched voice, he glanced around before his eyes settled on Russell, softly trembling.

“Despite the head of the subjugation force being here, I shamefully succumbed to sleep. Please forgive this improper conduct.”

Though his words were formal, his eyes curved joyfully, like a fox in good spirits.

Even if it was a jest, Russell cracked a small smile and spoke.

“There is nothing to forgive. Circumstances were beyond your control.”

“Your understanding is a relief.”

“More importantly…”

“?”

“How do you feel? Are you well?”

Although awakened, his battle with the poison could have left his body and mind weakened. Any lingering side effects or ailments wouldn’t have been surprising. Hence the question which Alan answered, not with words, but by gently swirling mana, scrutinizing his condition before standing up.

“As you can see—”

As he spoke, a cold chill flowed from his shoulders.

Crack, crickle.

The chill that started at his feet soon pervaded the room, frosting the windows and distorting the scenery beyond them. Such impact from merely a trivial exertion of magical power.

“There are no issues whatsoever.”

The sparkle in Alan’s eyes was unmistakable.

Whoosh, flutter!

The military banner flapped violently in the wind, resonating with the spirited aura of the assembled knights and soldiers.

Amidst this, Count Rainkel spurred his horse forward.

Clop, clop.

Henceforth, the well-trained steed showed off its paces, but Rainkel’s gaze remained fixed on one thing—the entrance to the marshlands, a vast swamp as large as numerous domains combined. It used to graciously supply water to his lands, a blessing, now ensnared by an unsettling emerald green mist.

The swamp would never regain its former tranquility unless the Hydra and its minions were eradicated.

“Our battle today will secure a peaceful tomorrow for our families, our neighbors!”

And so, the count drew his sword and declared.

“Prepare to march!”

He bellowed fiercely towards the entrance to the marshlands.

“The moment the mages cleanse the poison, we’ll press forward!”

At that time, while Count Rainkel and his knights prepared for the incursion, Russell and the other mages stood upon a hill overlooking the swamp, chosen during the planning stage for its commanding view.

“It’s time to begin,” Lyman announced, and upon Russell’s nod, the mages behind chanted in unison.

A profound vibration stirred in the atmosphere, and as a giant vortex of wind descended from the hill to the swamp, Whoosh! A powerful updraft was born, scattering the poisonous mists into the sky.

With the fog dispelled, Count Rainkel cried out as if screaming, “Charge─!!!!”

Drumming rapidly, the advancing knights and soldiers thundered across the field, shaking the very earth.

Screech? Shriekkk?

The demon beasts, catching wind of the anomaly a moment too late, lifted their heads in unison and unleashed their raw, unrefined malice.

Only seconds remained before the knights clashed with the horde of monsters, but a spell prepared in advance by Russell fell upon them first.

Whoosh!

With an apt spell to commence the subjugation, the region blazed fiercely.

Russell Raymond. Originality. Falling Sun.

A red-orange sun plummeted towards the swamp.

────────!!!!

The Dragon Devouring Mage.

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