A Hidden Power? A Dark Future
Within the highest-grade room of the Golden Hall was a scene akin to a royal chamber with a high-quality carpet lining the floor, resting below a classy table and chair of exquisite design.
A handsome blue-haired youth sat around the small table. He had a straight nose, curly blue hair with fine facial features. He wore a simple jacket over his blue shirt and branded trousers.
He sat with one leg crossed over the other and a cup of steaming hot tea in his upraised hand. He rested his other elbow on the table with his palm placed on his cheek as he stared at Alan, who walked into the room and bowed.
“I offer my greetings to Prince Rayfield,” Alan greeted.
“At ease,” Prince Rayfield replied, allowing for Alan to return to standing posture.
Soon after, Prince Rayfield had a flicker in his eyes as he spoke, “Alan, it’s been a while since you took that trip. I was beginning to worry since we lost communication. Have you been well?”
“I thank the prince for his concern. Because of the nature of the mission, I wasn’t able to keep contact with you as freely as I wished. I was injured a bit, but after a week of treatment, I’m now fully recovered,” Alan said in an apologetic tone.
Prince Rayfield nodded at this and spoke, “That’s good to hear. Hmm, seeing as you are now in good condition, I trust that you’ve been fruitful.”
“The prince speaks correctly. There were quite a few difficulties, but my mission was a success,” Alan replied with similarly profound eyes.
While listening, Prince Rayfield’s eyes had a unique glint. He turned his eyes towards the window, peering towards the sky. Though it was daytime, the fissure with the myriad of stars in the cosmos was slightly visible.
He smiled and replied, “Well, that’s good to hear. Then shall we get down to business.”
“Of course,” Alan spoke with a slightly deeper tone.
Prince Rayfield looked on in silence as Alan soon continued his words, “As you’ve known, it has been roughly half a year since that group made their presence more visible. Now, their influence is rooted deeply in our official system and other nations. Despite this, they’re still able to keep a certain layer of distance and mystery. They’ve claimed that they are here to guide us through an incoming disaster, yet we know nothing of their origins or true motives. Heck, there is no information on when they entered our world or how they got here? Even when I asked them, both my father and older brother couldn’t seem to notice this, and that strikes me as odd. I do not want to leave our fate into the hands of such so-called guests, even if I have to take actions on my own.”
Alan nodded as he fully agreed with the prince’s words; he spoke, “Your concerns are valid, my prince. I had found their activities in the past years to be quite strange. Many events occurred which I couldn’t quite understand, most of which were swept under the rug before an in-depth investigation could even begin. This is why I retired from the Special Military Division and the reason I came to your service upon receiving your unusual request. Luckily, after years of having things done smoothly, they’ve grown a bit lax. As such, I could glean certain things during my most recent investigations. After acquiring a recent source, I had set forth to find their main base of operation, but it turned out that I couldn’t find its trace. Instead, what I had ended up discovering was the strangest thing in our world. A region in our world they’ve termed as a Fragmented Rift.”
Prince Rayfield had a look of surprise in his eyes. He asked, “A Fragmented Rift? What is that?”
Alan made a slightly fearful look as he spoke, “It is a strange thing. Even in all my past years of experience on the battlefield, I had never encountered such a dangerous place. You could say it’s something like a different world, a small world in a contracted space. I don’t know how to describe it. I believe those of your generation would call it a portal? Much like those video games.”
“You mean like those game-like portals? Are you serious?” Prince Rayfield asked with a suspicious look on his face.
Alan chuckled as he saw his expression, but his face turned stern again as he slowly unbuttoned his shirt while speaking, “Yes, an almost game-like world behind a portal to a contained area. I originally thought it was an area crafted by some superior ancient race, but that’s not the major concern. What I discovered by stumbling up into that Fragmented Rift was no less than shocking compared to our guests. A secret which I had fortunately enough managed to acquire while avoiding a narrow end.”
Prince Rayfield was shocked at this revelation, even more so when as he saw Alan unbuttoning his suit and shirt, only to reveal a death-like scar on his muscular torso. It was a scar that would certainly spell death for anyone in the world, regardless of technological advances in medical recovery, looking as if something huge had run through his entire chest, heart, and all.
Unable to curb his shock, Prince Rayfield spoke out of character, “This …what on earth? How did you get this? No, how did you even survive this wound?”
Alan shook his head. He covered his chest again before showing his arm. Soon, he took on a stern manner, causing a strange glowing mark to appear on his hand.
With a look of fascination, he spoke, “I survived through this mark, a kind of token given to those who could survive and conquer that wretched Fragmented Rift. Inside of it, there are monsters the likes of which I’ve never seen in all my years of life. Giant boars, monstrous animals, and even odd beings. I was forced to fight against all as if it was some trial, and upon narrowly surviving, I was given a few rewards.”
Prince Rayfield was baffled, but he did his best to calm his emotions as he inquired, “So you’re saying that this crest was granted to you by that Fragmented Rift as a kind of reward, and it could even cure your fatal wounds. What is it, really?”
Alan nodded and answered, “Correct. It is called the Crest of Transcendence; a mark which allows any being to acquire the powers of a Transcender, granting abilities that can allow its user to grow infinitely stronger. I mentioned that the Fragmented Rift was like a game because, through its power, I can view another lifeform’s strength, which is ranked into different stages. When I received this crest, my strength had allowed me to acquire a few details from those outsiders who had perished. They are as follows:
“Firstly—the disaster mentioned by them is a cataclysmic event that will affect not only our kingdom but the entire world. The very Fragmented Rift I entered was only an inactive portal. I only entered because of a secret held by that group. There are plenty more like it scattered in our world, lying in wait. They say on the day of the disaster, each of these spaces will erupt, followed by a great change.
“Secondly—the monsters and beings beyond these rifts, aren’t your run-of-the-mill creatures. Guns and modern weaponry will have little to no effect, maybe a nuke, but who would be so foolish to use such a thing in our world. As such, the only way to fight them is by acquiring a Crest of Transcendence like myself, and that is achievable to those who can enter and conqueror a Fragmented Rift.
“Lastly—those outsiders aren’t to be underestimated. I was lucky enough to survive and claim an advantage because the group I snuck into the Fragmented Rift with was a group of carefully selected trainees. The majority of them are beings not of our world. Now, their influence and forces are too deeply rooted in our world for us to change anything. Not to mention that their leaders are rumored to be quite overwhelmingly powerful. For now, it would be in our best interest to keep a low profile.”
As he heard all of Alan’s words, Prince Rayfield’s face turned ashen. Just from going over the final bits, he knew that things were far more dangerous than they could ever imagine.
Alan looked at Prince Rayfield, who silently contemplated with a worried look. He sighed and spoke, “Dear Prince, what do you think of my suggestion?”
After a short while, Prince Rayfield gripped his fists as his eyes shone with determination when he spoke, “Though I agree with it, we’ve been behind since the start. We should move forward with even more caution and proceed with the same plan.”
Alan was a bit surprised. He asked, “Are you certain? With things as they are now, it would be troublesome if they catch wind of it.”
“I am sure. It would be far worse if we sit back and do nothing. Let us keep gathering information and find more allies, like-minded individuals who are both strong and capable. If you still have your connection with the SMD, we might need to seek help there as they are disconnected from our nation’s core military. You and I both know how capable they are. In fact, it’s likely that they have an even greater understanding of what’s going on,” Prince Rayfield said decisively.
“I understand,” Alan said.
Prince Rayfield then made a pensive expression before asking, “That space, can I also acquire a crest from within it?”
Alan’s eyes beamed as he spoke, “That’s right. With your abilities trained from young, anyone with a certain level of talent for combat should be more than able to acquire a crest from it. I also know of the two methods with which you can enter these spaces at this stage.”
Prince Rayfield had a bright glint in his eyes as he spoke, “Excellent. Since it’s like this, we should proceed to find more people with his kind of talent. Do this under the radar. We don’t want them finding out our objectives.”
“It shall be done. I’ll send the word to my colleagues,” Alan replied while taking out his mobile phone.
“Oh, I would like to use this week to awaken myself. Can you take me there?” Prince Rayfield asked.
Alan nodded as he spoke, “A wise decision, my prince, while that Fragmented Rift is no longer suitable because of that group’s suspicions, I do have a list of the location of a few others. I shall take you after I’m finished with today’s agendas.”
“Great.” Prince Rayfield said with a nod. He then looked at Alan then hesitated before he spoke, “One more thing, I would like for you the finalize the enrollment procedure. I’ll attend the institution one week from now.”
“Huh? Are you still planning to attend that college?” Alan asked in a tone of bewilderment.
“That’s correct. I know time is short, but I need a front to distract those outsiders from my actions. Plus, while I’m at it, I can also take the chance to scout for any talent,” Prince Rayfield said.
“By the wish of the prince,” Alan replied with a courteous bow.
Prince Rayfield nodded. He rose from his seat, fixing his clothing as he prepared to leave the room.
Alan’s voice sounded from behind him, “Oh, I had forgotten to mention it, but I had come across a rather peculiar fellow just now.”
Prince Rayfield halted his steps as he looked at Alan curiously. He spoke, “Oh, for you to notice him, who could it be?”
Alan smiled as he shifted his eyes outside the window and replied, “An unusual fellow around your age. I had my subordinate inspect his details. I believe his name was Evan. Evan Cross…”
Prince Rayfield’s eyes lit up as he spoke, “Oh, tell me more.”