“Alright. No. 8299 is completed.”
This was the first thing that came to Leonard the earthling’s consciousness since he was born. Since then, he had been living with the other newborns in a chamber. All of them were forbidden to leave the room except for daily walk in the morning.
Although life was dull, Leonard and the others still followed the rules, until one day at dusk——
Delightful humming sounded outside the room. Despite its whispering volume, Leonard still caught the tune.
The little Leonard looked around to search for the sound source. He was so carried away that he left the room without noticing it. Walking along the hallway, the little Leonard bumped into the humming graceful lady——
The girly moan caught the attention of a male earthling on the hallway, who hurried over to lift up the lady stumbled on the floor.
“Lady Enlil, are you alright?”
“Yes, I’m fine,” said Enlil while getting back on her feet. She continued with a sweet smile, “I’ve already got used to tripping, so I know how to fall safely.”
“Huh? Good to hear that,” said the male earthling. Turning around, he grasped Leonard brutally and yelled, “Leonard, you’ll be punished for leaving your room——Lady Enlil?”
“He’s just a child. Just let him go,” said Enlil, standing in front of Leonard. Despite the smile on her face, her words implied her absolute authority, which intimidated the earthling to remain silent.
“Remember not to wander around next time,” Enlil spoke gently, holding Leonard’s tiny hands.
The overwhelmed Leonard nodded, and he watched Enlil leave in trance. While she was leaving, her pleasant scent was the only thing on his mind.
“She is an Eldus, the superior existence that we must obey…”
Since then, the Eldus had become Leonard’s unquestionable faith, a divinity that no one could tarnish. His belief had pulled him through all the challenges and barriers. When he was fully grown, he earned himself a qualification of combatant.
At that time, Leonard thought that his faith would last till the end of his life. Yet truth was undeniable and ever-lasting.
“Done!” Leonard raised the handmade wreath that had taken him seven days to finish. He talked to himself enthusiastically, “hope this wreath can cheer Lady Enlil up.”
Led by Shamash, the war between the Eldus and the native creatures intensified. As the number of casualties escalated, Enlil’s smiley face gradually became a deep frown. Leonard, who cared about Enlil, decided to cheer her up by sending a gift.
“Let’s give it to her as soon as possible.”
When the impatient Leonard was on his way to Enlil’s location, he was distracted by some gossip in the hallway.
“When will this war end?” A short-haired female earthling said in distress.
“Sigh, who knows. I heard that the machinas tried to negotiate, but Lady Shamash kicked the lobbyist out...Of course the master would want the war, for they never engaged in any battles. It’s always us the earthlings who are made for the war. Aurora was dead because of the overloading——”
“What are you babbling about?” Leonard was provoked.
“L-Leonard,” said the female earthlings, bowing in awe. Although they were all earthlings, combatants had the highest status among all.
“Our lives are granted by Eldus. It’s our honor to die for them. As for Aurora, she was dead only because she was too weak,” said Leonard, scowling at the female earthlings. “Don’t let me hear any of these rumors ever again. Remember what happened to Schnauzer!”
The frightened female earthlings fled after apologies. Losing the good mood, Leonard cancelled his plan to meet Enlil. Yet he spotted someone familiar on his way back.
“That’s...Lady Enlil...What’s with the grim look on her face?” Leonard was worried, and he made a decision, “I can’t let Lady Enlil act alone. Gotta follow her.”
Leonard tailed Enlil to a hillslope, where there was a male Eldus waiting for her. He went over to stroke her hair as soon as he spotted her.
“So she’s meeting Sir Marduk...I guess I can go now——What?”
Just when Leonard was about to leave, he witnessed something jaw-dropping——Enlil stabbing Marduk brutally.
“No...This is impossible...This isn’t the Lady Enlil I’m familiar with…”
Denying the truth, Leonard turned around to run away. He spent all his strength to flee from the scene that tore his faith apart without recognizing his destination.
When Leonard finally drained his stamina, he crawled into a tree hole and sank into a slumber. He remained asleep until a fierce quake and a deafening blast woke him up.
Crawling out of the hole, Leonard spotted the unusually tinted sky as well as the strange ambience in the air.
As his mind focused on the changes, Leonard did not notice the unknown activity on ground level——vessels broke free from the soil and drifted to where Leonard stood.
Leonard murmured as he looked down at the vessels sneaking up on him, “why are these vessels moving...Hmm...I can’t breathe…”
As the vessels constricted, everything became blurry for the suffocating Leonard. Before losing consciousness, he got hit hard by a great momentum.
Freed from the asphyxiation, Leonard gasped rapidly to breath in fresh air. After adjusting his breathing pace, he was stunned by a magnificent azure dragon standing in front of him. He instinctively guarded himself with a mana shield.
“Don’t come over!” Leonard shouted as he pointed his weapon at the dragon, who ignored his hostility and destroyed the aggressive vessels with its claws.
“That should be safe,” said Cang Bi the azure dragon. Then it turned to Leonard and said, “calm down. I won’t hurt you...It’s not very convincing with the way I look now...Wait a moment...Hope this will do…”
After scanning Leonard for a while, Cang Bi drew a circle in the air to wrap itself up in a layer of mist. The mist eventually disappeared, revealing a shrunken figure——Cang Bi in the form of an earthling.
“Can you trust me now?”
“Humph! Don’t ever try to deceive me. I know you’re with those machinas...Hmm?”
Leonard attempted to attack, but he was too hungry to do anything. In the meantime, his stomach growled.
“Ahem...I’ll search the woods for food,” said Cang Bi, who was holding back his giggle but his gaze sold him out. At this moment, Leonard blushed for the embarrassment.
Later on when Cang Bi came back with food, the starving Leonard rushed over for his long-waited feast immediately.
“Nom nom...I can see that you’re not a wicked creature. You’re just deceived by those machinas. They framed my masters so that they can keep our mother for themselves——Cough!”
Leonard was choked by the food, and Cang Bi patted his back softly.
“Just don’t believe them! They’re liars!” Leonard continued when he was finally able to talk.
“Are they?” Cang Bi reached out at Leonard with a woeful look. “Then would you like to come with me for the truth?”
The hesitant Leonard recalled the horrible look on Enlil.
“...I want to know what I’m believing in…”
Leonard took Cang Bi’s hand, agreeing to join him. Next second, Cang Bi returned to the dragon form and took him to a cave located in a dead forest. Inside which, there lived dozens Minerelves and Floral Elves.
“Cang Bi! There you are!”
A minerelf without one arm greeted Cang Bi delightfully, but he hid behind the dragon as soon as he spotted the presence of Leonard.
“Don’t worry. He’s a friend of mine. He won’t hurt you,” said Cang Bi.
“But he looked alike with those creatures…” The minerelf remained cautious.
“Who are those creatures?” Leonard asked although he had already known the answer.
“Of course those invaders who call themselves Eldus!” The minerelf continued agitatedly, “one day, they invaded our home and slaughtered my kind just for their weapon production!”
Leonard’s denial stopped as he glimpsed at his weapon hidden under his belt. The gem embedded on the handle suddenly became ironic.
“Not only that, but they casted us out of our forest so that they could finish their research. We would’ve been dead if Pompeii hadn’t rescued us…” Another floral elf joined the conversation. Leonard was speechless when he saw their genuine expression.
“So...Everything I believe in is a fraud?” Leonard asked Cang Bi in confusion.
“...I won’t force you to accept that. It’s your choice to keep holding on to your faith.” Spreading its wings, Cang Bi said before it soared to the sky, “but truth never expires. As long as you don’t give up, you will discover it eventually.”
Leonard clenched his fists as he looked at the soaring Cang Bi who lived in liberty.