Kurt has emphasized the word, ‘Fallen’, a few times.
Recalling the conversation he had with Kurt, a frown slowly began to form on Roel’s forehead.
During the argument with Kurt, Roel had gotten too agitated that he ended up overlooking some of the key details, or else he would have surely asked Kurt to clarify them. One of them was the term, ‘Fallen’.
Initially, Roel thought that Grandar was deemed to be a ‘Fallen’ due to his undead reanimation, but it didn’t make sense when he thought deeper into it.
All deceased beings that were capable of moving on their own accord were categorized as undead. It was such a broad definition that it didn’t seem proper to simply label the undead as ‘Fallen’, especially since it appeared to come with extremely negative connotations.
Somehow, thinking about the term, ‘Fallen’, reminded Roel of a certain individual—Savior.
Astrid had told him about the huge impact the Savior had brought to the world in the ancient era, the most frightening one of all being His deranged murmurs that lured others into depravity. The Chaos Dream was created specifically to counter the madness He was spreading.
Could the term, ‘Fallen’, that was used in the historical records of the giants have something to do with this?
Regarding that question, Peytra spent a moment in contemplation before shaking her head in confusion.
“There’s no such thing as ‘Fallen’ in my era. The bestowment of Origin Attributes has united all races around Sia, ushering in an era of utmost peace and stability. While there were monsters like the Nine-headed Serpent, they were inherently vile creatures who lacked intelligence, so it wouldn’t be apt to call them ‘Fallen’.”
On the other hand, Artasia’s madder red eyes curled into crescents as she began laughing in ridicule.
“My hero, the ‘Fallen’ you speak of appeared after Sia’s departure. It’s only normal for that old fossil over there who died very early on to not know a thing at all.”
“Witch, are you trying to provoke me?”
“Waa, the Primordial Earth Goddess sure is frightening. I’m merely speaking the truth here.”
Faced with Peytra’s furious question, Artasia exaggeratedly patted her own chest as she ran over to Roel’s side to seek refuge.
“My hero, do you see how I’ve been bullied by her? Shouldn’t you do something to protect your princess?”
“I was convinced that you were a queen instead of a princess. Besides, you were the one who started it.”
“Witch, get away from him!”
Artasia revealed an unhappy expression at Roel’s inaction. Peytra glared sharply at Artasia and bellowed at her. It took a great deal of effort for Roel to pull the topic back on track.
“Artasia, what does ‘Fallen’ mean in the ancient era?”
“There are two connotations to it. One refers to a god who has succumbed to depravity in pursuit for power, and the other refers to those pitiful beings who fell into depravity under the Savior’s influence. The outcome is pretty much the same, just a slight difference in whether it was voluntary or not.”
“I see…” murmured Roel as he took his time to take in Artasia’s words.
It was unlikely that Grandar would fall into depravity on his own accord.
According to Peytra, he would only encounter ancient gods whom his ancestors had acknowledged and were contracted with. No matter how it looked at it, it was unthinkable for his ancestors to add a depraved evil god into their ‘gacha pool’ and doom their own descendants.
From such a perspective, Grandar was likely to be innocent.
However, it would be foolish to shrug off the historical records of the giants as lies just like that. There had to be a reason why they had recorded Grandar as a Fallen. Could Grandar be associated with the Savior while he was alive?
Grandar himself was unable to answer Roel’s doubts because he had forgotten far too much. Peytra and Artasia were also unaware of the details too. Unable to make anything out of the limited clues, Roel could only put aside the mystery behind Grandar’s past for the time being.
Most races in the Sia Continent didn’t have the habit of physically recording things down. The giants passed down their heritage verbally, so it was easy for information to get distorted along the way. By the time someone finally bothered to organize the information and pen it down in a book, it was hard to tell how much of it was truly credible.
Grandar could possibly be one of the victims of such distortion of information. If possible, Roel would like to help his old pal cleanse his name. It was just a pity that he didn’t have much information to work with at the moment.
It would be good if he could acquire the historical record that Kurt spoke of so that he could verify it in person, but that would be a thing for the future.
In any case, Roel decided to conclude this abrupt meeting since there was nothing left to discuss. He took some time to rest up before slowly making his way toward the banquet hall, where the celebration party would be held.
The moment he walked into the banquet hall, he saw Paul donned in a peculiar set of armor. He was explaining something to the crowd gathered around him.
“This is a special light armor used by the twelve generals of the Ancient Austine Empire’s Jungle Warfare Division. Its official name is Forest Fae. It serves two main functions—providing camouflage in forested terrain and enhancing the wearer’s physical ability. It was thanks to this light armor that I was able to last ten minutes in the preliminary round.”
“Its material looks pretty special. Is it a relic from the last epoch?”
“The inscriptions on it are really pretty!”
The nearby students showed looks of envy. Men were attracted toward combat-related equipment whereas women were more focused on the armor’s design and material usage.
Well-versed in history, Roel had heard about the Jungle Warfare Division that Paul mentioned. The division was founded when the Ancient Austine Empire was at the peak of its power, and its primary aim was to deal with the beast waves coming from nearby forests.
The Ancient Austine Empire boasted an expansive territory that encompassed many forests and jungles. These forests and jungles were filled with demonic beasts that would flood out once every year, rendering major transportation routes inaccessible. This left many cities stranded like lone islands amidst a sea of beasts.
There was no way the proud Ackermanns could tolerate losing control over parts of their lands.
In the early days of the empire, they had no choice but to take on defensive positions. Cities would stockpile food so that they could hide behind the safety of the city walls till the sea of beasts finally receded back into the forests and jungles.
However, as the empire developed, its military force and equipment grew much stronger. Cities started becoming dissatisfied at being confined within their own city walls for a month or two each year, so they started formulating plans to fight back against the beast waves.
It was then that the Jungle Warfare Division was founded.
Twelve different generals and their respective armies were allocated to this newly formed Jungle Warfare Division. Its equipment was specially crafted by the empire’s armory, and the strategy it adopted was slow and steady attrition warfare. They slowly chipped away at the number of demonic beasts, and around half a century later, the problem of beast waves was finally resolved.
This was the first time in history that humans had successfully triumphed over a natural disaster. It was a momentous accomplishment that signified the progression of human civilization to a higher level, but this ‘higher level’ turned out to be the peak of the Ancient Austine Empire.
The empire had successfully resolved one of the greatest problems plaguing it, but it fell into a spiral of decline for the next few centuries to come.
Its swift expansion had led to the overstretching of its military might and administrative prowess, forcing it to slow down its footsteps for world domination. During this lull period, the dreams and ambitions of the older generation appeared to have burned out.
The arrival of a prosperous and peaceful era had eroded humankind’s will to scale to greater heights.
Heroic tales were no longer seen in reverence, and the offspring of the illustrious knights immersed themselves in the enjoyment of debauchery. Money and prestige became the goal of those in power. Factional rivalry became commonplace amidst fights for power. Humankind lost the unity that made it strong. Corruption and depravity began breeding in all corners of society.
The Ancient Austine Empire had started to rot.
There was nothing more toxic in the world than contentment. Such was true be it for an individual or for a country.
I wonder what my ancestors, the Ardes, were thinking when they watched from the shadows as the empire slowly rotted away from the inside, Roel wondered.
Those thoughts left him feeling a little melancholic.