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865 Magic and Fate

 In the beginning of this world, humans took the tinder of Order from the Creator Dragon Souls. But humans were too weak and couldn't properly utilize the tinder of Order to stop Chaos's infiltration. In the end, one of the human families made a deal with the Creator Dragon Souls, using their souls in exchange for the production process and techniques of the tinder. At the same time, they paid with their freedom and as long as Order was present, they would serve the tinder for eternity.

Thereafter, the war between Order and Chaos erupted, where Chaos wreaked havoc across the land and concealed the brilliance of Order. As a result, the family that was responsible for safeguarding the tinder suffered in agony. But in order to pass on the tinder, they split up into several tribes and went separate ways, with hopes to avoid the ongoing disaster.

"... Our Senia Family was one of the guardians and branches that escaped from the disaster of Chaos. Thereafter, we arrived at the Munn Kingdom and signed an agreement with the then Archangel. We used our remaining magical technologies to work for the Munn Kingdom while the Archangel protected us. Ever since then, our Senia Family lived in the Munn Kingdom for generations. We've always been waiting for the person who held the rights to return to this place and awake the tinder in order for our Senia Family to restore our honor."

Marlene said softly. At this moment, magic crystals emanating faint radiances could be seen along the wide tunnel. However, unlike other tunnels, there were all sorts of mechanical pipes lined throughout the edges and ceilings. White steam was ejected from the openings from time to time, which brought some wetness to this dry tunnel.

"So, the residents here are the descendants of the Senia Family too?"

Rhode led the way. The path ahead was dark and empty. Ten minutes had gone since they entered the place and they didn't see anyone yet. The voices from before didn't seem to exist at all. However, it seemed like Marlene was familiar with this place.

"Only a part of them, Rhode."

Marlene shook her head.

"The Tinder Origin is the most dangerous place, with most of the residents as guardians, who were originally members of the Senia Family, responsible for daily maintenance of the tinder. When the Senia Family fled from the disaster, the guardians, alongside our family members, were sealed in the Tinder Origin. If it weren't for their hard work, perhaps the tinder wouldn't have lasted perfectly until now."

I see.

"Leader, Sister Marlene, Anne feels a little strange."

At this moment, Anne spoke. She stretched lazily while curiously scanned the metallic pipes. Christie and Bell followed behind her and also looked curiously at them.

"Since there are people here, why don't they awaken the tinder? Why must we come all the way here to do it for them? Didn't Leader say that the people here are powerful?"

"That's not the case, Anne."

Marlene showed a bitter smile and shook her head.

"Back then, the Senia Family put a lot of effort in creating multiple mazes and traps to protect the tinder from being destroyed. It was especially so when Chaos wreaked havoc. Our ancestors activated the defense mechanism before they escaped and the defense mechanism will attack anyone who enters the tower. Besides, the residents here have no rights to awaken the tinder because everything they received here is a gift from it. In other words, the residents aren't entirely people of Order as they didn't awake the tinder. Therefore, even if they destroy the traps and clear the mazes to find the tinder, they will be absorbed completely because they aren't people of complete Order. Only those with complete Order can pass through the defenses of the tinder and awaken it. Besides..."

Marlene paused and shifted her gaze to Rhode. Although the latter noticed her gaze, there was something more important to him.

"Marlene, what you mean is that all the tinders on the continent were created by the ancestors of the Senia Family?"

"Of course not."

Marlene shook her head.

"We only served one of the Creator Dragon Souls."

"In other words, you demanded to join me for this reason?"

Rhode looked at her sternly. Although Marlene sounded casual when she spoke joining them earlier, Rhode realized that there was a huge loophole. The war between Order and Chaos had ended a long time ago. Thereafter, in order to expand territories, every country dispatched exploration teams into regions contaminated by Chaos to awaken the tinders. Among them, the Country of Light and Country of Darkness occupied the majority. After around 200 years of 'vigorous' explorations, it became the current state of the continent. If the situation was judged based on this, there wasn't much of a problem. However, there was an important question.

And that was, which Creator Dragon Soul did the Senia Family serve?

There were countless families who served the Creator Dragon Souls, especially in the early stages. Although the White Elves, Undead Puppets, Night Wyverns and so forth were created to serve the Creator Dragon Souls, it was just like how a noble needed not only a servant, but also a guard, chef, gardener, and all sorts of people with other roles. According to Marlene, the Senia Family was the artisan of magical technologies to the Creator Dragon Soul.

But there was a problem. Rhode was aware that the name of the Senia Family didn't appear in the pioneering history in the Country of Light and Country of Darkness. Back then, in order to ensure control of the new territories, the players dug up the pioneering history of the era after the Chaos War. If the Senia Family was involved, it wouldn't be possible that they didn't notice them.

If it weren't for this matter, perhaps Rhode would have treated this adventure as a simple development of the land. This place used to be the location of his guild in the game, therefore he was certain that the Light Dragon Soul's protection would shine over this place after he awakened the tinder. But now, he suddenly realized that there seemed to be other issues involved. The Senia Family never showed up in pioneering history. Based on his knowledge of them, they also seldom mixed with the church, so the chances of them being subordinates of the Country of Law was small. So then, who are they exactly under... He recalled the reactions of the residents in the tower and puckered his brows. In the game, they didn't react this way. Could it be that bringing Marlene to this place was the required condition to unlock a certain seal?

If that was the case, it wasn't too strange. In the game, the Country of Light and Country of Darkness had completely perished when the players' era began and Rhode's Starlight was like a bulldozer that plowed through everything. On the other hand, news about the Senia Family stopped showing up after the Country of Darkness invaded the Golden City. If this was said to be a hidden condition to develop this territory, this actually made sense.

"Of course."

Marlene nodded without hesitation. But she lowered her head thereafter.

"I'm sorry, Rhode."

"Hmm?"

"Perhaps you may not believe me, but... a long time ago, the Senia Family had a prophecy that in this generation, someone would remove the ancient seal, awaken the tinder, and restore the glory of the family. So..."

"So... you didn't come to Paphield just for adventures back then, right?"

Rhode gazed at the young lady, which the latter came to a halt slightly.

"Yes, Rhode. I was following my family's prophecy to find the person who can restore our honor."

"... So you chose me? Why? Is it because I'm handsome?"

Rhode couldn't understand the reason because it seemed like Marlene was sure that he was the man mentioned in the prophecy. But how was that possible? When he first met her, Starlight had only just established and there was nothing worthy of her attention. Back then, he hadn't even completed a mission. He still remembered that Marlene was full of pride and arrogance when she found her way to his doorstep. If he didn't utterly defeat her during battle, perhaps she might still be disobedient. This didn't seem anything like her spotting her prince charming at all.

"Of course, I was searching for an organization that would allow me to roam around places, so I could search for the one in the prophecy. The main reason why I chose you was due to Lize because it is naturally a great thing to be with a friend, so I agreed to stay. Bu, later on, I was sure that you're the one after I saw your battle techniques."

Marlene smiled and hummed. "... A traveler who summons spirits, awakens ancient beings, and stores them in cards..." She paused, winked, and revealed a look of surprise. "I guess you should know what I'm talking about, right, Rhode?"

"Yes."

Rhode swept a glance to everyone at the back and nodded. What she just hummed was the praises of a Spirit Swordsman from the official website. Back then, this delusional description attracted a lot of people. But it was too late for them after they realized that they were basically lied to...

However, the Spirit Swordsman was an ancient, lost class.

Which meant that its existence had vanished entirely from this continent. However, the Senia Family actually knew about them. Could it be that they were related to Spirit Swordsmen?

Although Rhode wanted to ask more questions, they had arrived at the end of the tunnel.

At this moment, a cooling breeze freshened everyone. But when they saw clearly what was presented before them, they were stunned.

Everyone thought that the interior of the tower would be as dark as the refuge. However, there were lush trees and vines all around. In the middle of the tower was a round, blue lake while the radiance of the tinder that shone from above brought vitality and life. On both sides of the walls were dozens of fully-armored men with swords and shields, curiously and anxiously gazing at them. Judging from their appearance, they didn't seem anything like the Order Refugees from the refuge, so Rhode's group heaved sighs of relief. Shortly after, the two guards who stood before them made way while three men went up to them.

Their most eye-catching features could be described with one word: White. Apart from their scarlet pupils, they had fair skin and snowy hair. They were tall and wore a set of white leather armor and cape. However, what surprised everyone was that on their foreheads were two antenna-looking objects, which reminded Rhode of a certain humanoid robot that he once saw in a science-fiction movie.

Who are they?

Rhode knitted his brows. He was sure that he had never seen these people in the game. Besides, the attitude of the residents here were entirely different. Back then, when he was exploring the place, the residents were mostly indifferent before he lit up the tinder, and no one interacted with him. But now, the treatment he received was completely different with Marlene beside him. Could it be that this was a hidden plot branch?

Three of them went up to him while the surrounding guards swiftly left. Marlene gazed at them and took half a step forward. The leader lowered his head and bowed upon witnessing the staff.

"We welcome your arrival at the Tinder Origin, Holy Sage."

"I'm back, dear guardian."

Marlene placed her right hand on her chest and bowed solemnly.

"I've followed our agreement and brought the rightful traveler. The devastating Chaos shall be eliminated and the glory of Order will return to envelop this sealed land. Your defense duties are about to come to an end and it shall be our mission next."

"Yes, dear Holy Sage."

The three men revealed solemn expressions. Then, they heaved sighs of relief, lifted their heads, and examined Rhode.

"Please pardon our rudeness. According to the rules, we have to ensure that the person you brought along is the one that we've been waiting for."

The leader took half a step forward while the other two men went ahead and stood beside him. Shing. They held their snowy, dazzling swords before Rhode, stopping him from moving ahead. Not only that, but they also extended their left hands simultaneously.

Shortly after, radiances flashed.

Three cards of different colors appeared in their hands.

Rhode narrowed his eyes instantly. Although he wasn't sure who these people were, he immediately recognized them through their battle stance.

Spirit Swordsmen!

What an amazing and interesting development to the plot...

Rhode revealed a smile. Then, he extended his right arm and a white card flashed in his hand and turned into Star Mark.

He didn't expect that he would have the chance to battle someone of the same class. All right. I shall witness your strength.