Infinite Mage (Novel) Chapter 172

Eps 172 Kerugo Autonomous Region (4)

Fortunately, there was an exit. As the taste of the air changed, they emerged mid-way up a series of terraced altars.

Below them stretched the vast jungle of Mount Toa.

The forest, which overlooked 20 meters above sea level, was vast, and sporadic Kerugian settlements were visible.

Turning to the opposite side of the altar revealed a palace made of gold. It was the residence of the Kerugian chieftain. Entering the palace, they found a long hall with two rows of tables.

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

On the left sat Chief Kadum and the elders. Hashid, who had blown the trumphet, was not present. The presence of Mahatu at the end of the table suggested his rank was not low.

Music played, and traditional Kerugian cuisine was served. Before they could even taste the food, warriors in pairs entered carrying large chests.

The warriors opened the lid of the chest. There was a huge amount of gold coins and jewels piled up.

"What is this?"

“This is a small gift from Kerugo. Please accept it.”

The value of the chests couldn’t be calculated by count but had to be weighed. Combined, the five chests seemed to weigh at least a ton.

Amy put down her food with a look of displeasure.

This wasn't revenue from the relics. It was money earned from smuggling Loops. And that money was enough to feed the entire tribe.

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

“There’s no way we can accept such a huge sum without knowing the reason. Besides, it’s not just being given away.”

When Shirone asked for an explanation, Kadum's expression changed.

When any saint sees a gold coin weighing more than a ton, their breathing will change. However, Shirone seemed as indifferent as if the gold were merely stones.

Shirone was not a person detached from wealth. It's just that he wasn’t foolish enough to obsess over what wasn’t his.

Kadum wasn’t flustered. Instead of explaining, he clapped, and the second tribute was brought in.

He was confident that even those who rejected wealth would not be able to move from this.

People with white tattoos on their faces came in, like the man in the Room of Achievement and Sacrifice. Shirone guessed that it was a priest.

As they moved from side to side, a dozen young and beautiful Kerugo women came in.

The boys, including Shirone, opened their mouths in a daze. It was a scene that was difficult to encounter at their age.

Beautiful women, almost naked, were approaching and danced sensually towards them.

From afar, the dance seemed quite glamorous, but as they approached, it was indecent. The women seemed to be in a trance, as their eyes were blurry.

“How do you find it? These are the most beautiful priestesses of Kerugo. The second tribute offered to the messenger of the gods. We hope it pleases you.”

Shirone felt the seat next to him become warm. Without turning his head, he could tell what Amy's expression all too well.

Kadum's gesture had the opposite effect.

Though the dance of the priestesses was enchanting, to Shirone, it seemed nothing more than the writhing of women intoxicated by Loops.

Unwarranted kindness often feels threatening, and his mind, analyzing Kadum's inner thoughts, only grew colder.

Seeing Shirone’s unyielding response, Kadum finally began to worry.

The mind of an Unlocker transcends that of ordinary beings, but it doesn't make them a saint. This is because Immortal Function is merely a path towards enlightenment, not the attainment of nirvana itself.

If one were truly free from the Five Desires and Seven Emotions, they would not have snooped around the Room of Achievement and Sacrifice in the first place. He couldn't figure out what Shirone wanted.

"I must have misunderstood. I thought you would be pleased. To be honest, this is my first time welcoming the Messenger of God, so I just followed the tradition."

Shirone was even more offended by that remark. How licentious must Unlockers of his rank have been for such a tradition to exist?

"Did they enjoy this kind of thing?"

"According to the records, they didn’t seem to dislike it. But don’t misunderstand, there's no other intention. It's just tradition. Although Kerugo is a tribal society, the presence of the god is distinct. It is divided into priests and warriors, and among them women become priestesses. According to Kerugo discipline, a priestess must be beautiful and maintain her purity for life, but she is allowed to sleep once, for the purpose of bearing the child of an angel. In other words, the priestesses are prepared to devote everything to you, Shirone, the descendant of the angel."

"And if I accept these women, what am I supposed to do?"

The chieftain would not offer such a sacrifice without expecting something in return.This is because tradition is nothing more than a custom that arose out of necessity.

The amount of gold coins is enough to feed an entire tribe. Moreover, the women dancing to win Shirone's favor were potential mothers, capable of increasing Kerugo’s population. It was as if the tribe was handing over its wealth and future to Shirone.

"The Kerugians are the children of the great Ra. And the descendant of the angel is the only being who can connect the Kerugo tribe with the gods. Please convey our faith to the gods."

“By God, do you mean Anke Ra?”

"Anke, Ra. It means the eternal and immortal Ra. He has existed since the beginning and created us. With his mighty power, he still watches over us."

Stripping away the religious content, it boiled down to proposing a deal.

In exchange for gold and women, Shirone was to convey the tribe's wishes to the gods. The exact method of conveying was unknown, but it was certainly related to the Immortal Function.

The Physic Channel buzzed with discussions about whether to accept the offer.

Tess was in the position that it was impossible. Money is money, but she couldn't even imagine that Shirone would sleep with another woman over Amy.

Yet, defying expectations, Amy was for accepting the offer. And Shirone agreed as well.

- Shirone! How could you? They say all men are beasts, but I trusted you.

- Don't get excited. Let's see what Shirone has in mind. Amy agreed to it, remember?

- You're funny! Are you siding with him just because you're a man, Rian? I can never agree with this. Amy, say something. Aren't you annoyed?

- Of course, I'm annoyed. It's unpleasant that while the tribe is starving to death, they're throwing a feast. But that's something Shirone can control, right? The priority is to gather more information, so let's agree for now.

While Shirone and the others were exchanging thoughts, a white-haired old man came in. It was Elder Hashid, the one who had blown the trumphet. His eyes were bloodshot as he looked disdainfully at the elders engrossed in feasting.

Mahatu stood up and paid his respects.

"Have you arrived, Elder?"

“Tsk tsk, that’s pathetic. What a mess this is."

When the music turned off, the girls who were dancing collapsed from exhaustion.

Hashid, leaning on his staff as if it were a third leg, approached Shirone.

Kadum blocked his approach with a commanding tone.

"What are you doing, father? Ruining a sacred banquet like this?"

"Sacred banquet? Outside, our tribe members are dying of hunger every day. If we continue wasting money on such vain things, our tribe will truly be ruined!"

“I am surprised that the former chieftain of Kerugo and an elder of noble status would make such an outrageous statement. May I repeat your statement at the council?"

"That shouldn't happen. The tribe is inflated with hope due to the arrival of the Messenger of God. But that's it. Why don't you understand? What they want is happiness, not the Messenger of God!"

"I've heard enough of Elder's opinion. No matter what anyone says, I am the chief. Kerugo will be resurrected by the grace of God. We won't live secluded on the mountain, constantly wary of outsiders. Instead, we will recreate the glorious civilization of the past!"

Hashid clicked his tongue in disapproval and turned away.

Anyway, the chieftain was Kadum. If the conflict intensified in front of the elders, there was no guarantee that a civil war like 500 years ago wouldn't reoccur.

As the atmosphere calmed down, the elders stealthily left their seats, and the banquet eventually ended.

Kadum took Shirone and his group up to the top of the altar. The rooftop was spacious, with a 7-meter tall statue in the north. The sight of the giant bathed in moonlight exuded a sense of intimidation.

Standing near the statue, Kadum looked up at the night sky.

Numerous stars twinkled above.

But there was only one star he was focused on.

"Do you see that constellation in the northern sky? Connect it into a figure eight, then find the brightest star at the intersection of the two circles."

Shirone's party, who had followed expecting to be shown something, now found themselves listening to a lecture on constellations. Although Shirone and his party were reluctant, they took the time to find the star pointed out by Kadum.

Shocking words came out of Kadum's mouth.

"That star is the homeland of Kerugo."

"Yes? Homeland?”

For Shirone, 'home' meant the place of birth. The place where young people who moved to the city yearn for when they're homesick. It is definitely not somewhere far away in the distant night sky.

"Kerugians know that the god who created us lives there. We are born and die on this land, but our souls fly to that sky. The kingdom in the heavens. That's why we call that star heaven."

Shirone was perplexed.

Heaven is a conceptual place. It's not somewhere you casually introduce to a traveler like a tourist spot.

"I don't quite understand. Why is that considered heaven?"

“Shirone, you don’t believe in God, do you?"

Shirone neither believed nor disbelieved in gods.

The mind of a mage doesn't make definitive conclusions about things that can't be analyzed.

To Shirone, gods were beings whose existence couldn't be confirmed nor denied.

"The Book of Genesis of Kerugo contains this content. It is a myth before history. It is said that in the beginning, giants lived and that humans were born from the blood and flesh of giants. The first human being was Garok, who lived for seven hundred and eighty-two years. His child, Deris, lived for 982 years, and Deris's son, Thesus, lived for 1,320 years."

The Genesis of Ra wasn't much different from other religious myths.

According to some scholars, the lifespan of characters appearing before recorded history doesn't represent actual lifespans but the duration of a dynasty's rule.

Elzain the First, Elzain the Second, and so on, up to the 13th generation, the family flourished, and in myths, an Elzain appears who lived a thousand years.

It was a plausible explanation.

Even in the Kingdom of Thormia, the name of the king was passed down through generations. The current king was Adolf the 12th.

As if showing off his memorization skills, Kadum recited the lifespans of people Shirone was hearing for the first time.

As the age of myth ended, the narrative shifted to the era of history.

“Two thousand years ago, the pioneer Hannes established a civilization here. From then on, we have been embraced by Ra. You might have wondered why we do not restore the Kerugo Ruins buried under volcanic ash."

Shirone recalled a barrier so thick, not even Amy's Sniper Mode could penetrate it, running through the mid-layer of the ruins.

"There are many ancient ruins in the world, and this place is one of them. But there is a hidden truth in the ruins that the general public does not know. A very long time ago, our ancestors freely traveled to and from heaven. The underground facilities of the ruins prove this."

"What exactly is underground that you say so?"

By this point, Shirone couldn't bear not to listen.

Kadum said, looking intently into Shirone's eyes, which were filled with curiosity.

"Underground in the ruins, there is a gate that leads to heaven."

His head throbbed, as if he had been hit with a hammer. Heaven? Was he referring to the star in the northern sky?

That place is in space.

A distance absolutely unreachable by human capabilities.

“Are you saying that there's a way to go where the gods are?"

"Yes, exactly that."

Suddenly, a thought crossed his mind. Was Kadum, the chieftain, a madman? Or was he speaking the truth?
-

|Note

As of this chapter, the schedule for Infinite Mage is once every two days. Ping me in discord if I didn't upload

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