Around the end of January of Year 3003 on the Continental Calendar.
Serge made his decision and visited Azel’s tower.
Azel was laying down on a sofa and reading a book, his lips curved into a slight smile.
“It appears you’ve come to a decision.”
He paused for a moment.
“I will become a Great Sage.” 
He didn’t have to do any preparations. However, as it was going to take three days’ time, he did notify people that he would be gone.
Serge was guided into a room further up the tower, past the area he was told that he wasn’t allowed to enter.
To say what was there in a single word, it was science.
One wall was covered with a geometric pattern of copper wires running up from the floor. They went all the way to the ceiling.
This was science. Not magic.
No, perhaps it was closer to a science that took magic into account?
“To become a Great Sage is to inherit this knowledge. Those who inherit it will, without exception, keep watch over this world. You are free to interfere if you wish, but I do not recommend doing so too often.”
As Azel was saying that, he lead Serge towards a capsule bed in the middle of the room.
“You will place this on your head, you will fall into a deep slumber. Once you awaken, you will become an existence known as a Great Sage.”
Serge gulped, his apprehension audible.
“Your level will rise rapidly due to obtaining the knowledge. I wonder, were you prepared… to accept this power as well?”
Serge took a few deep breaths. This machine did not feel like it was a mind control machine. But even so, Serge had something he wanted to protect. For that, he needed power.
Serge nodded and stepped into the capsule. It was surprisingly large. Thinking about it, it was probably made so that races other than humans could become Great Sages as well.
The helmet on his head, Serge laid down.
He soon fell asleep, the torrent of knowledge beginning to rush into him.
A piece of history.
The Millennium’s arrival, from the history of mankind. Their fight against the demons.
Azel was there. There was a person with black hair, probably the Hero. The Demon King looked like a demon.
It was an intense struggle.
The demons that appeared from beyond the permafrost were simply hungry.
They hungered, yet they kept marching.
This was the truth of the Millennium.
Be they humans, animals, or demons, they all needed to eat.
It happened in the central part of the continent. Even Oomori Woods’ outer fringes were infringed upon.
Most human settlements were annihilated. The southeastern islands, the imperial capital, and some cities that were suitable for defense managed to make it through.
There was a Dragon.
The color of darkness, it was the gigantic Dragon, Valis.
With merely a breath, mountains from beyond the horizon were destroyed.
There was a golden Dragon as well.
This Dragon defended the imperial capital, erasing any and all demons that attempted to draw close.
Before long, the number of humans dwindled to one-tenth, one-twentieth… all the way to one-one hundredth.
A decisive battle between the Hero and the Demon King played out.
Serge learned one thousand years of history.
And then further into the past. People were living in cities quite different from the current.
And once again, he arrived at the next thousand year step into the past, two thousand years ago.
By this point, Serge was screaming.
However, the past didn’t stop flowing by.
It repeated again. Demons were coming from beyond the permafrost yet again.
Humans and demons perished, their souls entering the cycle.
This cycle, stained in blood as it was, held a queer beauty.
He saw a woman who looked strikingly like Ria.
She was on the Dark Dragon’s back.
The battle between the Hero holding a large sword and the demonic Demon King ended, the victory going to the Hero once again.
And then Serge arrived at three thousand years ago.
Serge learned the truth about the Great Collapse.
Three days had passed.
She’d been contacted by Serge, but Chris worried the whole time.
However, she was only told that he would be away for three days’ time.
Although it wasn’t to the point that she couldn’t hold food down, she would suddenly awaken at night.
Where did Serge go?
By telling someone that they shouldn’t overwork themselves, would they not attempt something unthinkable?
For that reason, her being out the garden wearing nothing but a coat over her nightclothes this night was not a simple coincidence.
The gate doors opened.
A person had come in.
The vigil for the gate was never ending, so people could be allowed in at any time.
The person was holding a mage’s staff.
Serge looked at Chris, his eyes unfocused as he looked towards Chris.
“What’s wrong? Are you alright?”
Chris spoke, feeling like something was wrong.
Serge walked to her and hugged her tightly.
“Everything, it’s all for the Soul Cycle…”
His hands were trembling. His voice trembling as well, he kept on embracing Chris.
“Right, right. It’s impossible. But that person thinks he can do it. Even Nee-chan…”
Hearing Serge’s almost incoherent muttering, Chris hugged him back, holding him tightly.
Serge’s trembling stopped. His warm breath brushed against Chris’s neck.
“Sorry… please, let me stay like this… a bit longer…”
The two stayed like that, each holding the other.
Serge had changed ever since that night.
The time he spent looking far off in the distance as though in meditation increased.
He would sometimes go into the forest alone, spending several days at a time doing so.
Something that Chris noticed was that Serge’s mana had grown silent.
Normally, mana would fluctuate, similar to breathing. This was true for every human, regardless of how strong or weak their mana was.
However, this wasn’t so for the current Serge.
She couldn’t feel any movements in Serge’s mana, much like a pool with a calm surface.
It was said that this would happen for someone who could completely control their mana, but those who could were an incredibly small portion of the population. Those people were called Sages. In truth, Chris knew nothing more than that.
She was worried about it. The person to inquire about what happened should have been her.
For the first time in her life, she was hugged by a man who wasn’t her father or brother. Asking him something like that should have been alright.
Yet even so, she couldn’t find it in herself to do so.
In those three days, Serge’s expression had matured as though he’d aged dozens of years.
Whatever happened, it might have been something he’d never be able to speak of to others.
That’s what she thought.
However, on a certain day, Serge approached Chris in the arbor.
“I’ve become Azelford-sama’s successor.”
It wasn’t too big of a surprise.
Seeing how Serge had struggled over the past few days, it wasn’t something too incredible to imagine.
Therefore, Chris wasn’t surprised by that. What surprised her is that Serge had more to say after that.
“Thanks to that, I have perpetual longevity, can understand practically all magic, and know three thousand years of history…”
“It’s like my head’s all tangled up even still. But well, I chose to do this myself.”
“Is… there anything I can do?”
Serge shook his head.
“Nothing right now… but sooner or later, I might have to ask you to do something awful.”
“If it’s your request, anything.”
Ojou-san, that’s a line you should never tell a man!
What would you do if I told you to let me massage your boobs?
O-or if I said to keep me company for the night…
I wouldn’t though! Really!
“I will truly ask you when the time comes.”
That night, Serge was called into the earl’s study.
There were two people sitting on a sofa specifically placed as though to receive him.
Serge felt that he could understand what was about to happen just by that.
“It has been decided that a mobilization order will be given to the city’s mages.”
The Magic City was an oligarchy. Chosen by nobles, the rulers decided its policies.
“Although this excludes students, they might eventually mobilize the students as well. No, they absolutely will when the time comes.”
“You want me to take Chris before that happens?”
“Can we request this of you?”
This was convenient for Serge. However, what pretense would the earl use?
“Ogress has called for the exchange of magic and for those of power to counter the demons’ front. As one of the trainees, Chris would disappear into that.”
It was something commendable for a father to do. But what about him as a noble?
“What about you all…”
“My son and I will remain. That is our duty as nobles.”
Truthfully, he wanted to cast aside his pride as a noble and his duties and flee to Ogress along with his daughter.
However, that would have been against his morals.
Several days later, it was announced that a special envoy would be sent to Ogress.
Chris’s name was on the list.
Serge would act as a guard and return to Ogress.
A few days before, Serge visited Azel.
Azel waited for Serge amongst his mountains of books, reclined back as he sipped on wine.
“Yeah. It’s my home. I also have to tell the queen the truth that I learned here.”
He’d come to understand the Millennium’s significance. By perpetuating the Soul Cycle, the world’s health was maintained. To that end, many lives must be sacrificed.
And the person who agonized over how to prevent it was the Demon King, formerly a hero.
“Even if we repeated the Millennium as we have each time before, it might not work out. In the past thousand years, the demons obtained a technological might incomparable to before.”
How would they face the Great Collapse?
“Even with all that, the Demon King intends to fight… for the fate of the world.”
Doing that would likely be an even more insurmountable task than simply facing the Millennium.
Even now, Serge didn’t know which side stood in the right.
“The next time you come, I will transfer this tower’s master authority to you. When I die, those three will follow your commands.”
Essentially, this was his last testament.
Serge’s eyes shook.
“Don’t look at me like that, I’ve already lived more than my fair share. A thousand years is more than enough for any human.”
Azel smiled. It was a refreshing smile, one that could release someone from the shackles of exhaustion.
“I’m already just praying that our enemies would hurry up.”
Three days later, the group of envoys set off for Ogress.
From inside the cabin, Chris kept looking at the group seeing them all off.
Grabbing her hand, Serge spoke to reassure her.
“I’ll be with you.”
- Slightly significant part here in that Serge uses ‘I (watashi)’ rather than his usual, lackadaisical ‘I (oira)’. Return