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Read Legend Of The Empyrean Blacksmith 466 Emperor Of The Wes

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CHAPTER 466

EMPEROR OF THE WEST

Rio stood frozen in place, beyond flabbergasted. He’d experienced plenty of mind-bending moments in his life, the like which caused him to look at the world in an entirely different way, but nothing ever came even close to today – to this moment. The symbol of everything he, and millions of others believed in, the cornerstone of all they stood for, the penultimate star of the Empyrion, was right by his side, dressed in hemp and shabby clothes, sporting a playful grin on his face.

Rio wasn’t surprised the Emperor was dressed so strangely as it was a well-known fact across the Empire that he rarely wore imperial garments; he wasn’t even surprised that he was grinning and smiling, as he was, too, well-known for doing that – he was not, however, well-known for randomly appearing in front of young Generals of the army as though it was the most ordinary thing.

“—don’t be so shocked,” Lino chortled, pulling his arm around the stunned Rio’s shoulders and guiding the lad toward his tent. “I absolutely hate feeling stuffy inside the so-called ‘Imperial Chambers’. Good G.o.d, have you seen them? Absolutely dreadful! People hollering and hovering at me all day, eat this, drink that, dress this, say that… pssh, I’m half-worried someone will ask me to wipe their a.s.ses and bless their s.h.i.+t, you know?”

“…” Rio remained speechless – indeed, this was the Emperor. Eccentric, perennially-engaged in saying nonsense… Emperor indeed.

“Congratulations on today’s victory!” Lino exclaimed as the two ducked in the General’s tent. “You looked quite cool out there, you know? You’ve got promise, I gotta say. If you keep proving yourself like this, I just might take you under my wing, you know? Ion’s all grown-up now and the b.a.s.t.a.r.d refuses to come home until he ‘liberates my homeland’. The selfish f.u.c.kin’ p.r.i.c.k, ain’t he? Tsk, tsk, whatever. Young lads need to dream, no? What’s your dream? Besides wedding and bedding whats-her-name, I mean.”

“—I… I…” Rio stuttered, unsure of how to reply. Though he may have known that the Empyrean was an eccentric, that didn’t mean he knew how to respond and play along. Rather, he was still trying to process the fact that he was casually sitting across the Empyrean in his tent as the latter took out two bottles of mead, handing one over, whilst slowly beginning to drink the other.

“Hmm, that’s the stuff!” Lino mumbled, taking in a deep breath as the chilly sensation cruised down his throat. “Man, Maya sure knows how to make G.o.dly booze. Drink. It’s good for your nerves. I imagine you could use a bit of help right about now.”

“—ah, yes…” Rio mumbled lowly before capping open the bottle and taking a few sips; it was quite strong, causing him to spit out a mouthful and cough violently right after, taking nearly thirty seconds to completely recovered. He could barely breathe as each breath he took would rekindle the frost in his lungs.

“Ha ha ha, not much of a drinker, huh?” Lino chortled. “Aii, sorry, should have warned you. Nevermind. Too late now, ain’t it? Anyway. Won’t you reply?”

“Hm?”

“What’s your dream?” Lino asked.

“… ah,” though Rio felt slightly dizzy, he also felt relaxed, less anxious. The alcohol truly seemed to have swept his nervousness along through his veins, leaving him in a calm state of mind. “To fight… to help You realize Your dream…”

“… I’m not asking about your aspirations lad,” Lino said. “But your dreams. Beyond the battles. Beyond the war. Beyond serving me as a weapon. What do you want to do? To be? To achieve in your lifetime?”

“… honestly?” Rio smiled sheepishly, playing with the bottle. “I… just want a family, you know? A home. A place I can come back to and feel… warmth. A couple of toddlers. A small farm, perhaps, or vineyard. A little piece of land to call my own.”

“… ‘s that so?” Lino smiled widely, taking a sip. “It’s a nice dream.”
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“… you don’t think it lacks… something? A higher calling?” Rio asked, somewhat stunned by Lino’s reply.

“—what’s the point?” Lino said. “A simple life… is breathtaking. The happiest moments of my life are when I’m with my family, sheltered from the hustle and the bustle of the world. From the bottom of my heart… I hope you realize your dream one day.”

“… so do I.” Rio nodded. “May… may I ask? Why… why are you here?” he managed to brave himself enough after one more sip.

“—I’ve some free time before all h.e.l.l breaks loose,” Lino said. “I’ll simply follow along for a while and observe silently. Just go about your business casually, alright? Don’t mind me too much.”

Lino flashed one last grin before suddenly vanis.h.i.+ng, leaving Rio to sit in dumb and daft silence. The Great Emperor… was the same, yet completely different, than what the rumors would make of him. So much more, Rio mused. Until today, he only fought for a figure, for a symbol, for an abstract concept that he simply accepted rather than understood. He fought for a banner, for his Emperor, for his Empire. Yet, today… it was all upturned, as though heavens swapped with earth and rain began falling upwardly.

He would fight for a man, he realized, for a person, for someone who, just like him, saw something more to life than fighting. Rio’s lips curled up into a smile of content, his entire body relaxing. Just like that, a dam in him broke, and he found himself becoming a Fiend t.i.tular. He found himself crossing the bridge many of his Seniors were still confused over. Merely by admitting… there was more to life than blood.

Lino was currently sitting on one of the trees by the edge of the field, his legs heaved over the branch, humming a low melody. He mused inwardly over Rio’s reaction, feeling a faint gush of pride swell within him. Contrary to what Rio may think, people rarely showed him that sort of respect anymore. Lino didn’t complain, however, as he never requested it. There was a reason he hated making rounds through the various departments as almost n.o.body dared treat him like just another person.

What made him the happiest today, however, was that he realized people still had dreams beyond today and beyond tomorrow and beyond the swelling of the war. He wouldn’t be able to act the dome of protection eternally throughout the war, wouldn’t be able to uphold the falling skies; the story, in the end, was much bigger than him. Eventually, however, the war would be over. All of it would settle. What of them then? They needed to look for life beyond this line.

“—are you certain you wish to completely erase the h.e.l.l’s presence from the Western Continent?” the familiar, robotic voice echoed suddenly inside his mind. “They won’t give it up willingly.”

“I don’t expect them to,” Lino shrugged. “They’ll leave the same way they came, or they won’t leave at all. It’s as simple as that.”

“… Asthar still held back on a lot of accounts,” Ataxia said. “If you plunge yourself into a war with him as well, you’ll be stretched on too many fronts. You’re increasing the risk unnecessarily. Let them have the vanity; keep open the Western Front and use it as a form of tempering for the young soldiers.”

“… you are misunderstanding something here,” Lino said, the look in his eyes turning deadly. “Though it may be an Origin War I’m fighting, I’ve absolutely no intention of dragging it on pointlessly. What use is a chisel when swords won’t be used nearly enough to grow dull?”

“You speak rather casually of ending the Origin War. But, it exists well above you, Lino. Even if you kill Two, and disband the Descent and even if you vanquish every last Devil… do you think the Origin War would suddenly end? Don’t be naïve.”

“—I’m not being naïve,” Lino replied. “I’m being absolute. Descent, h.e.l.l, Holy Grounds, Empires, Gaia, Bearers… this will be the last Age the world will ever witness them.”

“… indeed, you’re not naïve. You’re a moron. You understand the human heart better than most, and you still expect that to end the perennial state of chaos?”

“… you’ve lived long enough to know there’s no such thing as ‘perennial’, Ataxia,” Lino sighed, leaning back against the trunk of the tree. “All things… will eventually come to an end. Why not the state of war and distress? The discord will always exist, but I’m not trying to end that. Violence… can be extinguished, though.”

“It can’t,” Ataxia said. “And if you truly believe that… you’ve become too idealistic yourself, something you spewed others about your entire life.”

“… then offer me the alternative,” Lino chuckled bitterly. “I can’t spend the rest of my life fighting, chasing after all those who hate me and reject me, grooming armies, watching loved ones fall to ash, having my heart cracked and broken time and again. What’s the alternative to trying and end and prevent all of that? Or, perchance, do you want me to be like all my predecessors? Fight and fight and fight and fight… and fight till my guts are flowing through my eyes. Die a death of content, knowing I have tried?”

“I haven’t chosen you to be like the rest, nor have I groomed you to be like the rest,” Ataxia said. “I have always told you, Lino, the answer isn’t in ending anything. Do you think those before you never had the same opportunity as you? To ‘end’ it all? They had. Yet, unequivocally, they chose not to.”

“… that’s them, their lives, their stories.” Lino replied, glancing up at the darkening skies. “This is mine.”

“…”

Ataxia said nothing after, seemingly having realized Lino wouldn’t change his mind. Though he talked big, he was as clueless as anyone on how to go through with it completely. Only a portion had been mapped out, only the prelude, the prologue to the penultimate point. He was too weak yet for it… but not for long. Eventually, the curtain would unfold, beyond would begin, and all this… would come to an end. A new world would then begin.

———-

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