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Chapter 172

Infinite Mage


Translator/Editor: Ryuu

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Chapter 172: Kergos Autonomous District (4)


Fortunately, there was an exit. As the taste of the air changed, they emerged onto a mid-tier level of the stepped altar.

The jungle of Toa Mountain sprawled beneath their feet.

The forest, seen from 20 meters above sea level, was vast, with occasional glimpses of Kergos villages.

Turning to the opposite side of the altar, a golden palace came into view. It was the residence of Kergos’s chief. Upon entering the palace, a long hall with two rows of tables was laid out.

Shirone sat at the head table, with Amy, Rian, Tess, Canis, and Arin seated to his right in that order.

On the left sat Chief Kadum and the elders. Hashid, who had blown the horn, was not present. At the end of the table, Mahatu’s presence indicated his high rank.

Music played, and traditional Kergos food was served. Before they could taste it, warriors entered in pairs, carrying large chests.

The warriors opened the chests, revealing an immense pile of gold coins and jewels.

“What is this?” Shirone asked.

“It’s a humble gift from Kergos. Please accept it.”

The value exceeded countable amounts and had to be measured by weight. The combined weight of the five chests was at least a ton.

Amy put down her food with a displeased expression.

This was not income from the ruins. It was money earned from smuggling lupe. That amount of money could feed the entire tribe and more.

“Shirone, you’re not thinking of accepting this, are you?”

“We can’t accept such a large sum without knowing the reason. They wouldn’t just give it for nothing.”

As Shirone demanded an explanation, Kadum’s expression changed.

Even a saint would be affected by seeing over a ton of gold coins. However, Shirone reacted as if the gold was just rocks.

Shirone was not indifferent to wealth, but he wasn’t foolish enough to covet something that wasn’t his.

Kadum did not appear flustered. Instead of explaining, he clapped, and a second tribute was brought in.

He was confident that no one could refuse this.

Men with white tattoos on their faces, like the one in the room of achievement and sacrifice, entered. Shirone assumed they were priests.

When they stepped aside, a dozen young and beautiful Kergos women entered.

The boys, including Shirone, stared in shock. It was a sight they rarely encountered at their age.

The nearly naked women approached, dancing sensually.

From a distance, the dance appeared elegant, but up close, it was intensely provocative. The women's eyes were glazed, indicating they were in a trance.

“How do you like it? These are the most beautiful priestesses of Kergos. They are the second tribute for the messenger of the gods. I hope you are pleased.”

Shirone felt the heat from his side. Without turning, he knew what expression Amy had.

Kadum’s goodwill backfired.

Though the priestesses' dance was enchanting, to Shirone, they seemed like women writhing under the influence of lupe.

Unprovoked kindness often felt like a threat, and Shirone's mind grew cold as he analyzed Kadum's intentions.

Kadum began to worry as Shirone’s reaction remained firm.

An Unlocker’s spirit was superior to an ordinary person’s, but they were not saints. Immortal Function was a process towards enlightenment, not a state of nirvana.

Someone truly free from the five desires and seven emotions wouldn’t have ventured into the room of achievement and sacrifice. Kadum couldn’t discern what Shirone wanted.

“I must have been mistaken. I thought you would be pleased. This is my first time welcoming a messenger of the gods, so I simply followed tradition.”

Shirone found his words even more distasteful. What kind of debauchery had Unlockers engaged in for such a tradition to exist?

“Did they enjoy such things?”

“According to records, they did not dislike them. But don’t misunderstand. There is no ulterior motive; it’s merely tradition. Kergos is a tribal society, but the priests hold great power. Priests are divided into sages and warriors, and among the sages, the women become priestesses. According to Kergos’s rules, priestesses must be beautiful and remain chaste throughout their lives. However, to conceive a child of an angel, they can sleep with someone once. These priestesses are prepared to give everything for Shirone, the descendant of an angel.”

“If I accept these women, what must I do?”

A chief wouldn’t make such a sacrifice without expecting something in return. Traditions arose from necessity.

The amount of gold could feed the entire tribe. Additionally, the women dancing for Shirone’s favor were potential future mothers who could increase Kergos’s population. Essentially, they were offering Shirone the tribe’s wealth and future.

“Kergosians are the children of the great Ra. The descendants of angels are the only ones who can connect the Kergos tribe with the gods. Please convey our faith to the gods.”

“By gods, do you mean Aker?”

“Aker, Ra. It means the eternal Ra. He has existed since the beginning and created us. With his great power, he still watches over us.”

Stripping away the religious context, it was a proposal of trade.

They would receive gold and women in exchange for delivering the tribe’s wishes to the gods. The method was unclear, but it was evidently linked to Immortal Function.

The mental channel buzzed with discussions about accepting the offer.

Tess was against it. Beyond the money, she couldn’t imagine Shirone sleeping with another woman while being with Amy.

Surprisingly, Amy supported accepting the offer, and Shirone agreed.

“Shirone! How could you? I trusted you, even though they say all men are beasts.”

“Calm down. Shirone must have a reason. Amy agreed too.”

“Ridiculous! Rian, are you siding with Shirone because you’re a man? I’ll never agree. Amy, say something. Aren’t you annoyed?”

“Of course, I’m annoyed. It’s upsetting that the tribe starves while they throw feasts. But Shirone can control that. What’s important is gathering more information, so we should agree.”

While Shirone’s group exchanged thoughts, an elderly man with white hair entered. It was Elder Hashid, who had blown the horn. His eyes, filled with veins, glared at the elders engrossed in the feast.

Mahatu stood up respectfully as Hashid approached.

“You’re here, Elder.”

“Such foolishness. What is this madness?”

As the music stopped, the dancing girls collapsed in exhaustion.

Hashid, leaning on his cane, approached Shirone.

Kadum spoke in a high-handed tone, blocking his path.

“What are you doing, Father? Ruining a sacred banquet?”

“Sacred banquet? Our people are starving to death while you waste money on this nonsense. The tribe will perish if this continues!”

“It’s astonishing to hear such heresy from a former chief and honorable elder. Can I quote your words at the council?”

“You mustn’t. The tribe is hopeful because of the arrival of the messenger, but that’s all. They seek happiness, not the messenger.”

“I’ve heard your opinion, Elder. Regardless, I am the chief. Kergos will be revived by the grace of the gods. We will restore the glory of our ancient civilization, not hide in the mountains fearing outsiders!”

Hashid clicked his tongue and turned away, twitching his beard.

Kadum was the chief, and escalating the conflict in front of the elders could lead to another civil war like the one 500 years ago.

As the atmosphere settled, the elders quietly left, and the banquet ended.

Kadum led Shirone and his group to the top of the altar. The rooftop was spacious, with a 7-meter-high statue on the north side. The moonlit giant was imposing.

Kadum stood by the statue, gazing at the night sky.

Countless stars twinkled.

But he focused on one.

“Do you see that cluster of stars in the northern sky? Connect them into an 8, then find the brightest star at the intersection of the two circles.”

They followed him, reluctantly spending time identifying the star Kadum pointed out.

Then Kadum made a shocking statement.

“That star is Kergos’s homeland.”

“What? Homeland?”

To Shirone, homeland meant the place of birth. It was not some distant point in the night sky.

“Kergonians know that the god who created us lives there. We are born and die here, but our souls fly to that star. We call it heaven.”

Shirone felt puzzled.

Heaven was an abstract place, not a tourist spot to be pointed out to a traveler.

“I don’t understand. Why is that star heaven?”

“You don’t believe in gods, do you, Shirone?”

Shirone neither believed nor disbelieved in gods.

A mage’s thinking did not draw clear conclusions about the unprovable.

To Shirone, gods were beings whose existence could neither be confirmed nor denied.

“Kergos’s creation myth includes this story. It’s a prehistorical myth. In the beginning, there was a giant, and humans were born from the giant’s flesh and blood. The first human was Garok, who lived for 782 years. His child Deris lived for 982 years, and his son Tessus lived for 1,320 years.”

Ra’s creation myth wasn’t much different from other religious myths.

Some scholars suggested that the lifespans in prehistorical stories represented the duration of a family's rule.

For instance, if a family flourished for 13 generations, the myth would speak of a single figure living for a thousand years.

It was a plausible theory.

Even in the Kingdom of Thormia, the king's name was passed down through generations. The current king was Adolph XII.

Kadum recited the lifespans of unfamiliar names as if showcasing his memorization skills.

After the mythical era, he moved on to historical times.

“Two thousand years ago, the sage Hannes established civilization here. From then on, we were embraced by Ra. You might wonder why we haven’t restored the Kergos ruins buried in volcanic ash.”

Shirone recalled the thick barrier in the middle layer of the ruins that even Amy’s sniper mode couldn’t penetrate.

“There are many ancient ruins worldwide, and this place is one of them. But there’s a hidden fact unknown to the public. Long ago, our ancestors seemed to travel freely between earth and heaven. The underground facilities of the ruins prove this.”

“What exactly is underground?”

By now, Shirone couldn’t bear not knowing.

Kadum stared into Shirone’s curious eyes and said,

“Underground, there is a gate that leads to heaven.”

It felt like being struck by a hammer. Heaven? Did he mean the star in the northern sky?

That place was in space.

It was an unreachable distance for humans.

“Are you saying there’s a way to reach where the gods are?”

“Yes, exactly.”

A thought struck Shirone. Was Kadum a madman, or was he telling the truth?

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