46 Ethereal Nightmare (1)

The distinctive sound of dirt and debris being crushed underfoot pervaded the eerie and silent ruined town. No matter how much Seran used his magic to search, no signs of life could be found. These ruins were confusing to try and date, as signs of extinguished flames still remained in the area, the ashes no older than the night before, but some other ashes and debris were centuries old. However, compared to the current era's technology, excluding Seran of course, what didn't match up was the town's construction: every building was made in a manner older than even Greenwood Village's design, with materials that were used more commonly centuries ago. The last time such style and materials were used was about 300 years ago. According to William's database, the location they were currently in was once a part of a large power that, while not at the level of the Three Empires, it wasn't far from them. This power was destroyed overnight around 300 years ago, under mysterious circumstances. This power, once known as the Polypheme Sect, one of the largest sects on the continent, had left behind only ruins and scraps of records. Not a soul was found, not even a corpse discovered.

Thus, the Polypheme Sect's inexplicable destruction was deemed one of the most mysterious and terrifying events that had happened since Western Continent was formed. Their headquarters, the Skystone Pillar, a mountain that was carved using magic into the shape of a giant pillar, was later named the Abandoned Mountain.

As he walked towards the mostly intact bunker, Seran and William constantly tried to unravel the unusual nature of the town ruins. Nothing really made sense; the town looked to still be in the same condition, with some weathering, that it had been 300 years ago, but some of the debris seemed to indicate recent destruction. Despite their ruinous state, the town's condition had stood the test of time and almost nothing had changed. So, for recent damage to be here means that something happened...

Walking up to the doors of the bunker, which had numerous holes in the metal, Seran summoned a handgun, a weapon that took him dozens of tries to get right. The barrel had a dark glow on the end of it that acted as a silencer, absorbing the sound of gunfire. Readying himself, and his weapon, he put his back to the door and pushed the opposite door inward before ducking back for cover, just in case. When nothing happened except for the sound of the door creaking to a halt, Seran cautiously looked around the door and saw a distinctly lesser amount of debris inside... still no bodies, no signs of life. It looked like the bunker had once been used as a gathering hall, as some of the broken tables still remained in decent condition despite 300 years of time. As the only light came from the doorway, he couldn't see very well, so he cast a Light spell, Minor Sun, and tossed it to the ceiling, where it hung and illuminated the bunker.

Cautiously, Seran searched through the bunker, looking for any clues as to what happened recently. William also aided in his efforts with his database, [From the looks of it, nothing has moved in millennia... Hmm... Wait, look over there, by the back wall. It looks like a campfire.] As the demigod made his way over and inspected the fire, William continued, [There was definitely someone here last night... There were signs of them entering, but nothing of them leaving... Use your new time spell, the [Forgotten Lens]. It should be able to show us what happened.]

Nodding, Seran began casting his spell, finishing it with simply stating the name of it, "Forgotten Lens." Within the bunker, the power of time spread out and a ghostly version of reality formed over everything, giving it the feeling of being in an illusion. The image of Seran walked backwards through the steps he'd done to arrive, while the real one stood and watched. Once the Seran illusion left the bunker, the time power sped up its reversal, taking only five minutes to reach the night before. Two blurs appeared, moving quickly with the rapid speed of time, before exiting, at which point the time power stopped and began to play forward.

Two men, adventurers by the look of it, both injured but not majorly, entered into the bunker, panting from exertion to open one of the massive metal doors. One, a grizzled veteran, muttered, "We should be safe here, but make sure there isn't anything suspicious in here. This place... is not a welcoming location." From his expression, the veteran knew a lot about the town, and by extension the Polypheme Sect's disappearance.

The other man, who looked to have just entered his twenties, searched through the area as Seran had, checking for any dangers, before eventually stating, "All clear. Nothing here at all."

The two men then went to the back and used some of the ancient wood and broken stone to build a campfire, sitting beside it for both warmth and comfort. The veteran sighed, "Never wanted to end up here. This place is nothing but friendly..."

"What do you mean, Gunther? It's just ruins." The young man, obviously, didn't know the same things that the older man did, so he asked.

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Chuckling, Gunther said, "It's more than just ruins, boy. This town, along with many other places, once were part of a huge sect that was close to rivaling the Three Empires, standing for over a thousand years, called the Polypheme Sect."

"Really? I wouldn't be able to tell without you mentioning it. This place has been trashed to oblivion."

"Don't interrupt me." Clearing his throat, Gunther continued, "Anyway, one night about 300 years ago, without any explanation, no sound or sign, the entire Polypheme Sect and all of its citizens just... disappeared. Everything was destroyed, but there were no bodies, no souls, not even a speck of ashes from them. Think about it. A sect close to being the fourth empire, completely vanished overnight, and nobody knew why. Even the Mage King's descendants came to investigate. The Polypheme Sect's headquarters, the Skystone Pillar, was scoured top to bottom, but nothing was found except for scraps of old records and broken artifacts. Several million people, gone, just like that." He snapped his fingers, just to emphasize his point.

The younger man's pupils shrunk as he muttered, "No way. There wasn't anything, at all? That doesn't make sense..."

"No, it doesn't. It's been 300 years since then, but the Polypheme Sect's disappearance was the most disturbing event since the Western Continent was formed 3000 years ago. It alarmed the entire world at the time, but it only ended up being marked as a great mystery because nothing was ever found. And so, a massive power suddenly disappeared from the face of the planet, leaving only ruins behind." Gunther grunted as he shifted in place, "Staying in these ruins... is not something I'd wanted to do."

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