Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
After another series of bombardments, the passage into the main tomb was revealed to the members of the Machinery Hivemind.
The ground was littered with debris. The diamond-shaped Beyonder characteristic that reflected a human face lay silently at the bottom of the right wall, glowing with the light of two other objects.
The entire tunnel, including the two walls that lined the sides and the stone ceiling, was filled with potholes. However, one thing remained undamaged.
It was a frame that was hung up ahead about seven meters away. It was brown in color, and the wood grain was obvious, but only the side of the frame was revealed.
Without anyone mentioning anything, all the Beyonders present could tell that it was strange.
At this moment, the archbishop of the Church of Steam and Machinery, Horamick Haydn stepped forward and said in a gentle voice, “This is likely to be the Specter Portrait Frame that belongs to the Amon family according to the records. As long as one walks into its range and is illuminated by it, their Spirit Body will instantly be separated from their flesh and blood, turning into a portrait and be forever sealed inside. In this state, even if the portrait is replaced, there is no way of rescuing the person without the corresponding methods.
“If the duration of being sealed is too long, the body would already be dead; then, even if one grasps the correct method to remove the seal, the spirit will quickly dissipate.”
As he spoke, Horamick moved forward, step by step, closing in on the strange frame.
Klein was a bit worried, not daring to watch the demigod fight against the Sealed Artifact, but he quickly realized that he was just watching a scene provided by the magic mirror, Arrodes. What was there to be afraid of?
This is very normal — it’s just like watching a horror movie or playing a dark game…Klein calmed himself as he quickened his pace and caught up with Horamick Haydn.
The demigod archbishop quickly reached the confines of where the mystical item that needed to be sealed was. He wore a white priest robe and a clerical cap, and his figure gradually appeared in the glass on the surface of the picture frame.
Glass… Glass in the Fourth Epoch? Seems to be the case. There has at least been glass in the Fifth Epoch’s history all this time, and there has been no mention of who invented it… Klein waited with great interest for the “battle” between the demigod and the strange Sealed Artifact.
Horamick’s upper body fully appeared within the Specter Portrait Frame, but his eyes didn’t lose their luster!
He walked towards the frame, face to face.
The silhouette within the painting flickered, as though it was constantly shrinking, yet it was unable to succeed.
Horamick stopped, took out a large, almost opaque black cloth he had long prepared, and he covered the Specter Portrait Frame.
The frame trembled a few times, but in the end, it was completely covered by the black cloth and turned silent.
Horamick seemed to be unaffected as he effortlessly removed the Specter Portrait Frame and finished wrapping it with the black cloth before tying a knot on its back.
This… This isn’t mystic… Didn’t you say that your Spirit Body would be absorbed into the frame and be turned into a portrait? Why is the archbishop fine… Is this the uniqueness of a demigod, or is it because of another reason? Klein sized up Horamick Haydn, but he didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary.
His eyes are filled with spirit, his expression genial, and he’s rich in flesh and blood… It’s a pity that I’m not there in person. Otherwise, I could activate my Spirit Vision and have a look… Klein retracted his gaze and waited for the Machinery Hivemind members, such as Ikanser, to come over.
Horamick handed the Specter Portrait Frame to a member of the team and walked towards the main tomb at the end of the passage.
There was a black stone door filled with scrapes carved by blades and axes. In the middle of the door was a grayish-white disc.
The surface of the disk was divided into twelve segments. There was a black needle, just like a clock from the outside world.
However, the segments weren’t evenly distributed across the disc. They were of varying sizes and extremely incongruous. Furthermore, each grid had half of its surface covered in a shadow.
“The coat of arms of the Amon family.” Archbishop Horamick made a brief introduction.
He didn’t explain the symbolic meaning of the coat of arms, because presently only Deacon Ikanser Bernard was qualified to know.
Klein, on the other hand, relied on his own knowledge of mysticism to attempt to decipher it.
Disc, twelve segments, and a needle. Combined together, they clearly represent time. It matches the Worm of Time which Amon’s avatar left behind after it was wiped out. What should be twelve equal segments on a disc, are unequal in size, and there’s a shadow over a portion of it. Does this mean that the Amon family is the dark side of time? Then, where does their title as a Blasphemer family show itself?
While Klein was thinking, Archbishop Horamick pushed open the stone door without any protection.
The heavy stone door opened, revealing an extremely spacious tomb chamber.
In the center of the chamber was a dais with a deep-black coffin on top of it.
The surrounding walls were decorated with iron lampstands, each holding a burning white candle.
All the candles didn’t flicker. It was so quiet that it seemed like a scene that was fixed in place, completely devoid of any signs of it suffering the effects of time that spanned one to two thousand years.
On the straight path from the stone door to the coffin, there were corpses lying on the ground. They were all wearing black tweed coats, half top hats, or even ordinary worker clothes with a cap on their heads. It was obvious that they had entered in recent years.
The Beyonders that previously recruited helpers? How did they get past the area at the front? The Human-skinned Shadow and the other monsters were clearly still alive… With a mind filled with questions, Klein looked at the corpses.
What he saw left him immediately shocked.
The corpses all had sparse white hair, dry and wrinkled skin, and obvious markings on their skin. They looked like eighty- or ninety-year-olds.
There were no obvious wounds on their bodies as though they had died of old age. Furthermore, it appeared as though they had died recently and hadn’t even rotted yet.
It’s very obvious that there wouldn’t be this many aged Beyonders exploring the tomb. Even if the discoverers of the tomb were old, they would still try their best to choose the young and strong when recruiting helpers… There’s something odd about it! Klein frowned and looked around again.
He quickly thought of the Worm of Time left behind by Amon’s avatar, and the coat of arms of the Amon family that represented time on the stone door.
Making people age rapidly is one of the Amon family’s Beyonder powers? The dark side of time… The loophole in time… Could it be that as others rapidly age, the members of the Amon family would regain their youth and extend their lives? Wait a minute, for these Beyonders to easily barge into this place like that, perhaps it was deliberate on the tomb master’s part. He wanted to rob them of their time in order to maintain his own existence… Klein looked suspiciously at the black coffin on the platform.
At this moment, the demigod, Horamick Haydn, raised his left hand and pressed it down.
“You will stop here.”
“Yes, Your Grace,” Ikanser and company answered without any hesitation.
As members of an official organization, they had read up on a large number of past Beyonder events. They knew that under similar circumstances, they had to obey the will of a High-Sequence Beyonder and absolutely couldn’t act rashly or else they would die without knowing how.
Horamick looked ahead, and his eyes fell on a picture frame that hung upside down at the bottom of the dais.
His expression didn’t change as he continued to walk forward at a leisurely pace.
Not making any preparations at all? The hallmark of demigods is to be “rash?” Klein was stunned.
He seemed to be able to imagine Horamick’s teeth dropping, his white hair wilting, and his skin shriveling as he rapidly aged.
One step, two steps, three steps… Horamick, who seemed fine, suddenly trembled, and a sharp and piercing grinding sound could be heard from his body.
His pace began to slow down, his movements became stiff, and his skin visibly dried up.
There’s something wrong with that… That isn’t the aging process of a normal human being… What was that grinding sound just now? Klein muttered inwardly.
Four steps, five steps, six steps. Ripping sounds came from Horamick’s body as something fell to the ground.
Klein subconsciously looked over and saw a gear.
A gear covered in rust!
Horamick continued on as items kept dropping from his body from time to time. There were rusty screws, melted wax, yellowed bones, and loose springs… His figure became increasingly thin and unsteady, as if it could collapse at any time.
This is just like a robot… Well, in this era’s terms, “like a living doll”… Klein was suddenly enlightened.
He remembered that before Old Neil died, he had said that the Church of Earth Mother’s Sequence 4 was good at Alchemical Life, and that the Savant pathway’s corresponding Sequence was barely able to do so too.
As for Horamick, he was a High-Sequence Beyonder of the Savant pathway!
The Horamick in front of me isn’t the real him, it’s just a refined doll. Just now, the reason why the Specter Portrait Frame was ineffective was that a doll doesn’t have a Spirit Body! The real Horamick should still be far away… As expected of a demigod…Amidst Klein’s enlightenment, the archbishop walked up to the dais, bent his knees and back, and turned the upside-down frame over.
Generally speaking, when exploring a tomb involving Beyonder elements, it was necessary to avoid flipping items over, but this time, Horamick had made the opposite choice.
Following the flipping of the portrait frame, a wind suddenly blew in the sealed tomb, dispersing the formless imprisonment and silence.
The candles on the iron-colored light fixtures rapidly ignited, becoming unusually bright. However, they soon reached the end of their lives and melted away.
The old corpses on the ground rapidly rotted and stank.
In just a few seconds, the tomb’s main chamber had turned dark, leaving only the lanterns that the Machinery Hivemind members were holding onto to barely illuminate the area ahead.
Horamick picked up the picture frame from the floor and went up the stairs to the dais.
He came to the black coffin, stretched out his right palm, and forcefully pushed.
Creak. The heavy coffin lid opened up a crack with a creaking sound, as though it wasn’t nailed shut at all.
Horamick looked down and said in the same unchanging voice, “There’s no corpse.”
As the scene drew nearer, Klein saw that the coffin’s interior was empty except for a pale gold cushion embroidered with a worm with twelve rings.
At that moment, Horamick turned around and the picture frame in his hand was reflected in the eyes of Ikanser and the others.
With just a glance, Klein’s gaze suddenly froze.
It was a portrait of a smiling young man.
He had black eyes and black curly black hair.
He had a broad forehead and a thin face.
A crystal monocle hung over his eye.
He wore a black pointed hat.