Tales of Astora: Legacy (Chapter 25 out of 119)

Discussion in 'Original Stories' started by necrophedius, Jul 16, 2017.

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How do you find the story so far?

  1. Excellent!!! Keep up!

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  2. It's good but there are still room for some improvements

    1 vote(s)
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  3. Nothing special really....

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  4. Urggg! NOPE!

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  1. necrophedius

    necrophedius Member

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    Synopsis: Over the course of time, countless heroes have risen to defeat the demon lord. Their names, recorded in history. Tales of their achievements are known across the land. But what about the demon lords who have fallen? What of their side of the stories? One such tale is about a young boy born of Dark. What would he do now that all the powers of the old demon lords of the past belong to him? Would he pursue the path of Dark he was destined to? Or would he reach out to the Light at the cost of his own life? There is no other path. And yet he seeks it, insatiably.

    Author's note: This is the first tale of the series "Tales of Astora" that I wrote. The first volume "Legacy" is actually finished with more than a hundred chapters currently available on a few other sites (I don't know if I should mention their names or not on another forum so if this is somehow disrespectful to the people of the sites, please tell me!). Though I will be posting one or two chapters per day to see the reactions of the readers. If you think that I should post the whole novel in a single post (i don't know if there is a maximum) or some way else, please tell me. I am new to the forum so there may be rules I am not aware about.
    PS: the second volume "Insurrection" is currently underway with more than 20 chapters already finished. Depending on how things go and how many people are interested in the story, I will post it when I am done with the first volume.

    Some chapters I wrote exceeded the maximum limit of characters (like chapter 23) so I have to divide it into two parts. So for example Chapter 23(1) and Chapter 23(2). The number in clauses indicate the number and order of the parts

    You can also read it on RoyalRoadL: http://royalroadl.com/fiction/5921/tales-of-astora-legacy-finished
    Or on Quotev : https://www.quotev.com/story/8050528/Tales-of-Astora-Legacy

    For comments, discussions, feedback with more details, please go to this thread.

     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2017
  2. necrophedius

    necrophedius Member

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    Prologue​



    At the beginning there was nothing. Then God came. "Let there be Light" he proclaimed and with his words, a bright light began to shine in the Void. From this light came the stars and worlds filled with Monsters. But God was not satisfied with his creation. For Monsters only followed their animal instinct. He wanted something more: an intelligent life form in his image.



    And so God forged the First Flame. And from it life began. The Prime races were created: Human, Elf, Beastman, Dwarf, Dragon and Celestial. He then chose one representative from each race to be their own Gods, giving them extraordinary power. These six were later known as the Primordials, as they were the first of their race. And with their commands, the world continued to prosper.



    But the brighter the light the darker the shadow. For if there is Light, so is Dark. The Dark would not accept the Light. It corrupted the Monsters, creating an abomination known as the Demons. Savage creatures who dared take the form of man, who only knew killing to satisfy their bloodlust. The Demons waged wars against all races, driving them into near extinction. When all hope seemed lost, the Savior came and brought hope back to the people. For he was the hero sent by God to protect his subjects. As he struck down the First Demon Lord and repelled the Demons back in the isolated continent of Ragna.



    However, one day, the Dark will come back and the Demons will rise again. When that time comes, the hero shall rise again and we will repel the Dark in the name of our Lord.



    -Chapter 1 "Origin of the world" from the "Holy Scripture" by Saint Peter the First, First Pope of the Church of Light-


    * * *​




    Kingdom of Ceadric, Frontier Village Caine


    It was cold. Of course it was since it was in the middle of winter. In the outskirts of Caine Village, an old man was returning from the hunt with his trophy on his back: a wolflike creature with a horn on his head, a Storm Wolf. The storm wolf was a common monster in these parts. They usually hunted in group but awkwardly not this one. This explained why the old man managed to slay it as it would have been difficult for him if there were more than one of them.


    The man seemed to be in his sixties, bald with dark skin. But this was no ordinary weak old man as his body was covered with scars, not from the wolf he hunted down but from years of battle. He used to be an adventurer, going in dangerous dungeons looking for treasures or defeating terrible monsters. But it was not odd to see a retired adventurer walking around in a forest. What was odd was the direction the man was walking toward. Normally after a hunt, the next thing to do is either to sell the prey or bring it home. But the old man continued walking in the direction opposite of the village. Not to mention in this cold weather. The answer was simple: he was going home. But why live outside the village? Monster attacks were common in these parts. Surely it was better to stay inside the protective fence surrounding the village... Unless you had something to hide.


    After a long walk, a wooden cabin came on sight. It was a simple two story house, located in the middle of the woods. The area surrounding the house was clear of trees. Normally it would have been covered by flowers, but in this season, nothing could grow on the snow. The light was on and white smoke was coming out of the chimney. An odd stench was filling the air around the house. The old man, approaching the house, recognized the smell immediately.


    "10 years and still the same damn soup. Please God, let me live through this, as you did for the last 10 years!" he mumbled to himself.


    Upon entering the house, he was greeted with a smile from a beautiful elven woman. "Welcome back, Gazel!" greeted the woman. Her name was Morgan. Long black hair as dark as the night with dazzling violet eyes as amethyst in a black coat, the elf looked almost out of place in the middle of this half broken place. She was seemingly concocting some mysterious potion in a big cauldron. The substance looked black with bubbles on the surface.


    "I see you got quite a catch today. I wonder what dish I could make with this one. Oh I still have some leftover soup. I didn't know you would be back today so I let the children eat and go to bed already." she smiled grimly, glancing at the wolf on Gazel's back.


    But when Gazel looked at what was inside the cauldron, he let out a long sigh."Every time I see that thing, I wondered if you are actually a witch.... FOR GOD'S SAKE WOMAN!!! How did you manage to turn only vegetables into this? Look at that! It even seems to be moving." Although on numerous occasions did he try to teach her how to cook, she somehow always managed to magically turn every ingredient into a black liquid substance, which surprisingly was edible but the taste and smell were so terrible that they caused the monsters to stay away from the cabin.


    "You say that but in the end you always finish everything. Come on. Admit that you like it!" Morgan playfully tried to tease the old guy. Every time he complained about the taste of her cooking, but he always gulped it all down in the end.


    “Anyway this should help us get through this winter. Well, we still have some supplies and dry food as reserves in case of emergency.”


    The old man spoke to the woman. He wrapped the wolf in a piece of cloth and put it in the storage. Suddenly he felt something jumping on his back. It was Alice. “Grandpa is back. Tell us some stories, please, please.” She then dropped down, smiling brightly while looking at her grandpa with big eyes. A small boy, timidly hid behind her. He was Alastor, Alice’s little brother.


    “Alice, don’t bother grandpa. He is tired. Let him rest. And it’s time to bed for you two.” Said the elf woman.


    “But mom, it’s still early.”


    “It’s ok. I will take them to their beds." Gazel then turned to the children. Taking them to their beds implied a bed time story. Thankfully even if as an ex-adventurer, Gazel had more than enough stories to tell. Whether they were true or not it was a different story. "However just one story ok?”


    “Yeeaahhh. Quick, grandpa quick”, Alice took his hand and went for the stairs.


    “You spoil them too much. Ok fine but just one story alright?”


    The mother gave a sigh, giving up on dissuading the children. The girl jumped around with excitement and dragged her grandpa to their bedroom. The little boy said good night to their mom and followed Alice quietly.


    The children now in the bed, only poking their small heads out the sheet. The old man took a chair and sat by the bed.


    “So which story do you want to hear today? Last time was the creation of the world, if I remember correctly?”


    “We want to hear about the story of the six heroes again.”


    The two children answered with excitement, opening their big eyes and listening carefully to their grandpa.


    “Alright, alright. You two never get tired of this story, do you? Here goes. Once upon a time...."


    "Wasn't it just 10 years ago?" Alice interrupted.


    "Well yeah but just bear with me for a second. And no interruption this time or I won't ever tell you bed time stories again."


    Understanding what their grandpa said, both children cover their mouths and nodded in agreement.


    "Ahem. Once upon a time, there was a demon king who threatened the very existence of all life in this world. Upon seeing that, the six gods took pity on the people of Astora and chose six heroes, one from every race. Each received the blessing of their god. They were:


    Lakyus, leader of the heroes’ party and also First princess of the Empire. She was renowned for both her beauty and her swords skills which no man can rival.


    Ingrid, the White. A celestial that has lived for a very long time. Some say that she has lived ever since the creation of man.


    Izago, the Mighty. The king of the dwarves. Known not only for his unrivaled strength but also his beard which was the same as his height.


    Theoron, the Wise. A three hundred years old elf who served as the elf king personal advisor. Known for his powerful spells and wisdom.


    Celdora, the Dragon Lord. One of the few dragons who can take human form.


    And finally Arshe, a rogue of the beast clan. Not much is known about him because he always hides in the shadow.


    In their adventure, they encountered both friends and foes. Together they went through countless challenges and battles. Arriving at the demon lord's castle, they challenged the Demon Lord Asgore. It is said that their fight was so intense that the sky was set ablaze, mountains were cut in two, and forest burned to ashes. But in the end the heroes managed to defeat the demon lord and the world was finally in peace again."


    "But what happened to the heroes after that, grandpa? Even though they killed the demon lord, I haven't heard about them a lot.", Alastor asked. Always the one with questions.


    "Well that it's a good question. The answer, however, is a bit sad. Only half of the members of the heroes survived. Celdora returned to the dragon continent. Apparently he settled down from the world politics, married a human and had a child. I don't know much further than that. Information from the dragon continent rarely reaches here. Arshe became the Captain of the royal guard for the Beast King and became rich. Everything a man could want, I suppose, for saving the world. But I have heard that a year after his return, he quit and became an adventurer or mercenary and has since traveled around the world. The celestial Ingrid, however, disappeared completely, never to be heard again. The celestials were looking for her but I guess they gave up after 10 years. As for the three who perished, people has built temples and monuments to acknowledge their sacrifices. Aside from that I don't know anything else." Gazel explained proudly.


    While the tales and accomplishment of the heroes were known widely, not much was known on what exactly happened to them after that. Not even scriptures of the Church of Light depicted the aftermaths of these events but only focused on their journey and how they defeated the threat of the demons.


    “Alright It’s late now. Go to sleep. I can always tell another story tomorrow. Sleep now, children!”


    The old man patted both the children's heads before going out and closing the door of the room. He went down the stairs and sat at the only table in the room. Morgan had prepared a portion of soup for Gazel on the table and was still finishing up the chores in the house. He stared at the roof for a while, thinking about Morgan and the two children.


    “It has been already 10 years now. Time passes so quickly.” He took a glance at Morgan. She reminded him so much of his deceased daughter. The one he could not save from the hands of the bandit. He even lost his wife in that attack. It was since that day that the adventurer Gazel gave up hope. He quit the Guild and settled down in this god forsaken village, drowning himself in alcohol waiting for his end. His son however, could not bear watching his father falling from grace, departed from home and went to the capital of the Kingdom. Last time he heard his son became a knight captain, serving the king dutifully.


    Gazel remembered as if it was yesterday. He used to live inside the village instead of this god forbidden place. After all he was and still now the village elder of Caine Village, there was no reason for him to live this far from the village. That was it until 10 years ago when 3 strangers appeared in front of the village gate. It was an elven woman accompanying with a baby child and a small girl.


    While the villagers here were kind to each other, they were very wary of strangers, most likely because of bandits. When you lived in a frontier village, far from the capital, not only you had to deal with monsters but also bandits and even soldiers pillagers from another country.


    At the beginning, people refused to let her come in the village. The only one who defended the woman was Gazel. Not out of pity nor out of conscience but because the elf reminded him of his daughter. The villagers here all knew the old man's past so they did not push it further. After a while the three strangers were openly accepted in the community. But one day, for an unknown reason Gazel decided to move to the outskirts of the village. Sometimes people still tried to convince him to go back. No one understood why he decided that way. Everyone was very kind to the elf woman and her children. Yet he refused to come back. Except for times when the woman came to the village for supplies, no one even saw her children. After a few years, people gave up and thought that maybe he has just gone senile. But did he?


    That night, young Alastor had a dream, or perhaps it would be better to call it a nightmare. He was in a dark place. So dark yet seemingly endless. Then he noticed a shape inside that darkness. A black humanoid shape with a white outline. Then he spotted a second with a slightly different shape but still humanoid. Then another and another. Before he knew it, he was surrounded by hundreds of black shadows. While these shadows had no eyes, Alastor could feel their stares right on his skin. He could sense their emotions in the air: some with anger, others with pity. So many different emotions yet all share the same goal: revenge. Then he heard a voice in his head.


    “Let the Ascension begin!"
     
  3. necrophedius

    necrophedius Member

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    Chapter 1: Ascension



    One day before the Ascension

    Avant - Heim, Citadel of the sky


    Avant-Heim, the capital city of the celestials, was a humongous floating island in constant move, being the largest city in the world in term of size and wealth. From a far, it looked like a giant pyramid-like citadel with nine different levels. Each level had their own purpose, from living quarters to magic research. One could only believe that such a wonder can only exist in the realms of the god.


    The celestials themselves were a peculiar bunch among all races. Characterized by their symbolic wings on their back, celestials highly valued order and stability, seeking balance between all races. They saw themselves as the guardian and watcher of the world. Perhaps because they were the first race to have been created by the Gods. It gave them a major confidence in their own ability as they were the servants of the Gods, give out judgement in their place.


    Celestials had a particular hatred toward demons. To the celestials who were the most faithful worshippers of the Gods, demons were seen as a living sin as they were not originally a race created by the Gods and therefore must be eradicated.


    In time of war, the celestials usually secluded themselves from the rest of the world, only intervened when the war threatened the existence of the world itself. But even in those time, they only gave out hints and directions or did things behind the scene. Never had they openly participated in a war at the front line, not because they were weak. On the contrary they were one of the most powerful races, second only to the dragons. Celestials just thought that the affairs of mortals were below them and only intervened when things were at their worst. But even so, they were respected across the world for their neutrality and were often invited to serve as an arbiter in important events. One of the few occasions where the celestials went to war was when a demon lord appears, such as ten years ago. However aside from that, they always remained in the background, sometimes pulling strings in some events. And as always, behind the scenes. Until now…


    A celestial was running across the halls of the seventh level of Avant-Heim. Quite special for a celestial such as her: blue haired with white wings. The woman was in her late twenties, at least in appearance. She wore a white long coat and on her back a two-meter crystal long claymore. The sword itself emitted a terrifying yet divine aura. The lady finally stopped in front of a giant door with two guards standing in front of them.


    “Hold! Only those who have received the Calling from the Overseer may proceed.” Said one of the guards.


    “I have been summoned by the Heralds to participate in the Calling. The name is Executor Ikarus Salem.”, Anna replied while placing her left hand on her chest proudly.


    The guards brought out a small crystal the size of a pebble. From it emitted blue light scanning the Executor. After a few seconds, the guards nodded and made ways for Ikarus.


    “You may proceed, Executor. The Heralds have already arrived. You are the last to have come.”


    ‘Tchh. No need to remind me that I am late’ Anna thought face to the sarcasm of the guards.


    Without any delay, Ikarus entered the gate. She went across a long hall before reaching the end of the corridor. Opening its gate, she saw six others celestials already present sitting around a large round but hollow table. She apologized for the delay and quickly took a sit.


    The Council of Heralds. Consisted of six members, each was referred as a Herald. They managed the affairs of Avant-Heim, from internal politics to foreign affairs. In short they were the leaders of the celestials. One of the six celestials, a blond man in his thirties, began to talk.


    “As you all know; we are all here for the Calling of the High Overseer. Let us not make him wait any longer!” The man threw a glare at Anna before resuming.


    A bright light flashed in the room. It began to materialize as a person in hood. His wings seemed like they have seen better days with their greyish color, to the point as if they were withering. While Ikarus didn’t see the person face because she was only seeing their back and the person was wearing a hood, she knew immediately that the person in front of her must be incredibly old due to their voice.


    “It has been a while, young Mikael. I see that everyone else is here.” The old man turned his heads around to look at everyone’s face. He stopped at Ikarus. “And you must be Executor Ikarus.” Putting his right arm to his back, he began to watch Ikarus from head to toe, analyzing every inch of her. “Hum impressive for a common celestial but nothing that special either. Then why ….. no no there must be something else.” The old man then mumbled something but Ikarus cannot heard it. But she felt a little uncomfortable with someone staring at her like that. The awkward silence was broken by Mikael.


    “Ahem. Greetings High Overseer. It’s an honor to meet you.” Finally, Mikael managed to have the old Overseer’s attention. “Let us go back to the reason why we are all here. Please tell us the reason why you have made this Calling.”


    Mikael seems tensed, as all others Heralds inside the room. Of course they had plenty of reasons to. Last time the Calling was made, a demon invasion took place. What could possible await them this time?


    “Ah yes yes. Ehem. I have summoned all of you here because I have seen a vision. And a troubling one at that. In two days, in the eastern part of the Kingdom Ceadric, a calamity will take place. In my vision, I have seen a young human boy. From him, the calamity will spread and it will consume our world. And that’s the reasons I have summoned you all here. You the Heralds are the strongest of our race. You are to be sent there and stopped the calamity to happen. If possible, I want you to bring the boy back to me alive.”


    The words shocked everyone in the room. A calamity would happen unless they acted immediately. But this was too sudden and the prophecy itself raised a question among the crowds.


    “And may I ask: what exactly am I doing here then?” asked Ikarus. Everyone turned their attention to her. ‘Yes why would we need her in this meeting?’ must be what Ikarus thought what everyone was thinking right now.


    The old man chuckled. “No need to rush things young celestial. For I have not revealed all of the vision yet. You see in my vision I saw you, Executor.”


    “What? What am I doing there? You can’t be thinking that I have something to do with this?”, Ikarus shouted, hitting the table angrily.


    “No no of course I am not suggesting anything. However, since I saw you there, I believe it would be better for you to accompany the Heralds in this mission, just in case. My vision only shows me a fraction of the future. You never know the future completely.” Laughed the High Overseer loudly.


    “Very well. We shall do as you said High Overseer. Everyone please prepare yourself. We leave in three hours. And Ikarus, I expect you will in time this time. I now conclude this Calling.”, announced Mikael before glancing at Ikarus.


    Everyone began to stand up and leave the room through the door. The last one remaining was Mikael. As he began to stand up, the old man spoke to him.


    “I did not mention this earlier but at the end of my vision, amidst this calamity I saw a small, or should I say a tiny little flame surrounded by darkness. I have not said this because I don’t know its meaning yet. But keep it in your mind Mikael.”


    Mikael nodded in respect. Just as he was going out, he was stopped by the Overseer’s words.


    “Be careful young Mikael. Actions bring repercussions. But remember that sometimes inaction itself may have dire consequences.”


    Mikael, stunned by those words, turned back but the Overseer was no longer there. He stood there silently, reminiscing something in his mind before moving out.


    * * *




    Alastor's POV


    I always knew that I was not like the others. Why you asked? Because either I was mentally crazy or I had people living in my head. People, at least, that was what I thought they were. Ever since I could remember, I have had these strange dreams where I was in a dark place, surrounded by these shadows people. Every now and then, only one of them showed up, others time a dozen. I have tried talking to them but it was very hard to distinguish one from the other as they all looked the same to me. Well, the shape of each one was slightly different but in this dark place, managing to see them was already an accomplishment. Sometimes I just bumped into one when I tried to walk my way out of the dream. A futile effort from personal experience so I just waited for it to end.


    Occasionally a shadow would talk to me. Oddly I was not afraid. Weird wasn't it? I knew next to nothing about these people who kept appearing in my dream and here I was, talking to them. I was not the kind of kids with lots of friends. From times to times when Alice and me sneaked out of our house to play with the kids from the village, even though mother forbid it for some reasons, I had a lot of trouble trying to talk to the other kids. I just felt .... different from them. Perhaps it was due to the fact that I had no mana at all.


    While kids would not be able to cast fireball at our age, the least we could do was making spark. But I could not. Not a single thing. I was afraid that I would be a disappointment. But mother and grandpa just smiled at me and comforted me. What surprised me the most was Alice. I thought she would make fun of me like every other thing but she did no such thing. Instead she volunteered to teach, to help me train, to no avail but she continued. When others kids laughed at me, she would jump and punch them to their faces. Well she was always the kind with muscle for brain so I was not surprised about that but still, it made me happy, happy that I had people who cared about me.


    Then again perhaps it was true that I was different. Last time I checked, human kids did not have a gemstone on their chest, or anywhere else on their body. But I had one. A black gemstone as dark as night on my chest. At first it was the size of a bean then it just kept growing with me as I grew older. It must have doubled its size by now.


    Back to the weird shadows in my dream, you would expect me to try to run from them but somehow I felt close to these people as if we had something in common. They would tell me stories of great kingdoms, ferocious monsters they defeated. At first I thought they were joking as I have never heard the name of the kingdoms they mentioned. Grandpa had a lot of history books in the storage and since I would rather stay inside than going out, I just read all of them one by one. But as I continued to listen to their stories, I was convinced that these were definitely not lies. I was fascinated.


    After all these years, I started recognizing some of the shadows. There was one woman called Asmodeus. At least I think "she" was a woman because of her feminine voice and bosom. She always teased me for being small and how she wanted me to be her little brother.


    Another shadow called Beelzebub or Belz for short, a very friendly one I supposed. He was a rather big guy, bigger than most of the shadows here. He was the first shadow I talked to. We shook hands when we first met but the moment my hands touched his, I fainted and woke up.


    Since then I learnt that touching the shadows with my hands will wake me up instantly but I felt greatly tired after that. There was also a guy called Belphegor but all he did was sleeping. Well at least when I was in the dream. Of course I talked with a lot of others shadow but these three were the ones I talked to the most, well at least that was the case for Asmodeus and Belz.


    Now why did I start thinking about all of these? Because at this moment I was being surrounded by at least a hundred of these shadow people. Suddenly I heard a voice I did not recognize in my head.


    "Let the Ascension begin!"


    While I stood there baffled by all of these, a shadow approached me. It was Belz.


    "It's time young Alastor."


    "What? What do you mean Belz? What is going on?" I started to panic. I could feel that Belz was not in his usual mood. He was serious. For the first time I was scared of being here. I took a few steps back, only to bump into another familiar shadow.


    "Forgive me, little brother!" It was Asmodeus. I felt as if she was sad.


    All of the sudden, all the shadows reached out to the gemstone on my chest. When a shadow touched it, the gemstone seemingly absorbed it. One after another. Each time I felt an intense pain in my chest, my vision darker as if the world around me was ending. But I could not move. The darkness in this place was holding me down. I started hearing whispers. The whispers became louder and louder.


    "KILL THEM!!!"

    "Why did this have to happen?"

    "I WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOU !!!"

    "Why do I have to kill?"

    "SLAY THEM ALL!"

    "Forgive me everyone!"


    There were so many voices. Children, man, woman. All mixed together. I felt sick listening to these sounds. But one voice had my attention.


    "LAKIUS!!!!" this particular voice had a male accent. It was filled with anger and hatred. Could it be?


    Because I could speak a word, I felt an enormous presence. I tried to look around. The shadows were all gone but above now lied a giant dark sphere. I could barely make out the outline of this sphere but it was enormous. Then I heard that voice again, the one talking about Ascension.


    "Possession has been completed. The vessel is now ready for the final phase of Ascension. We will now proceed with the Kindling."


    A red light began to shine inside the dark sphere. It looked almost like an eye. I could feel the enormous pressure from it. I tried to move but I could not. And before I could even scream, chains started to come out of the gemstone on my chest. They pierced the sphere and then they started to pull it toward me.


    "IT HURTS!!! IT HURTS !!!!" I scream out. After a while I submitted to the pain and fainted.

    ....

    ....

    ....

    "Ascension completed. The Dark welcomes you, Demon Lord Alastor !"


    * * *



    Same time somewhere else


    Inside a room lit only by candles, a large figure in a black robe was sitting in front of a crystal orb. The figure was chanting some kind of spell but nothing happened. He clenched his fist so hard it would any man bleed by now. But the man did not bleed. Of course he could not bleed if he did not have any blood or skin. The figure was a lich.


    Lich could be described as a skeleton wielding magic. They were intelligent and not mindless undead, unlike zombies and simple skeletons. Although their form was basically a skeleton wearing a mage robe. However, this was not just any normal lich but an elder lich, the strongest magic caster compared to any kind of undead. But alas, his spell did not work. The spell he was casting allowed one to find a specific person from anywhere in the world but it did not work for the last ten years he has been trying. Filled with anger, he shattered the crystal orb to the ground. His efforts did not pay any result. All these years for nothing. But he would not give up. Not now, not ever. He sat down, looking at the candle, thinking about the next spell which could probably help him find the person he was searching for. Suddenly he felt a small disturbance in the mana flow inside the castle he was in. Someone or something was emitting mana from the vault.


    Curious he decided to check what was the source of this mana. He took his staff and went out of the room. A moment later he found himself in front of the vault. The vault was where every magical item not being used was stored, whether because they were useless or they were too dangerous to use. It was protected by a barrier no one could cross unless they had the password. Could it be there were intruders inside the vault? Impossible only four person had the password and the barrier was still here, which meant no one has used the password yet. Whatever the case he could not leave this situation persisted.


    The lich raised his staff and cast a spell. The barriers reacted to the words spoken and vanished into thin air. The lich stepped inside the vault. It was very dark inside but the undead could perfectly see in the dark just as human during the day. From the outside the vault looked like the size of a small room but inside it was as large as a castle court with different levels. Thankfully, the lich could perfectly sense the direction of the mysterious mana source and just walked toward that direction. Inside his head, or what was left of it, since it was only a skull, he wondered about the mana source. Could it be an ancient artifact being activated after so long? Or really some powerful intruder had managed to sneak inside this castle without being detected? He considered many possibilities. Until he met a dead end. He knew this section of the vault. Just some old dust-gathering weird machines left by the old Artificer.


    Not convinced, he looked around for more clues. Until he met eyes with a peculiar object: a doll inside a glass box. If he remembered correctly, this was one of the last creation of the old Artificer. The old guy wanted to create a living doll, with its own feelings and conscience. In other words, a doll with a soul. Everyone laughed at the idea at that time but the artificer continued his work. In the end the doll did not even move an inch and he passed away without ever seeing his creation coming to life. The lich looked carefully at the doll. Sure at a glance the doll looked just like a young human girl. Short white haired in a white dress, she had however a peculiar gemstone sticking out of her chest. The lich approached the glass to look at the gemstone. Suddenly his eyes met her opening eyes. The mage was startled and jumped back before pointing his staff toward the doll to prepare a spell.


    The sound of gears pressing again each other echoed inside the silent vault as the doll started shaking. Then she spoke a half broken sentence


    "As....cen...si...on...As...cen...sion..I....fo..und...you"
     
  4. necrophedius

    necrophedius Member

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    Chapter 2: Attack



    "There was once a town that was famous for producing great mages and sorcerers. Even in this town, one family stood out for having a history of the best mages in the entire land, more than enough to gather attention from numerous kings and lords of different countries. Then one day, the next heir to the family was born. People expected so much from him even months before his birth. His parents were at that time the most powerful mages. Would he be a king? Or more than that? Perhaps a God of Magic? Whatever the case, prosperity would surely follow him and his family.



    But none of that happened. The boy had no talent for magic. He could not even cast the simplest of spells. Soon the family and the town shunned him. But he did not give up. Instead of magic, perhaps he could use something else. Something that would bring him recognition, so that his parents would accept him. He departed from the town and travelled the world. Years after years, he searched. And one day he found it. Inside a dungeon far to the North, he found the golems. Machines that existed since ancient time. If he could not cast spell, then he could create golem to fight for him.



    The once talentless boy in magic found himself a new goal. A few years later, he became famous for his creations, receiving countless invitations from kings to join their army. Happy more than ever, he decided to go back to his town, waiting for the price of his efforts: his parents' recognition. But he received none.



    The father was angry when the boy showed up with his golems. He rejected the ideas of machines, thinking it was preposterous to use them while his magic could do much better. Then he hit him.



    The golems, reacting to their master's injury, grabbed the boy's father and threw him to the ground. The villagers were terrified. They began to attack the golems. But they underestimated them. And so the golems destroyed the entire town, killing everyone else. There was nothing the boy could. He just stood there, watching the carnage with tears in his eyes. He could not stop the golems from killing his family. Or could he? Perhaps the golems simply acted according to their master's hidden desire....



    The boy disappeared from the world that day. Some speculated that he continued his research in golems. Not just any kind of golem, a golem capable of human emotions, one that could be considered a living being. But for what? Perhaps to replace a now lost family."

    - "Tales of the Artificer" by Arshe the Wanderer


    * * *




    BANG! A loud noise sounded from downstairs. “It sounded like someone just knocked our door down,” Alastor thought out loud. He had jumped out of his bed and landed face-down on the floor. He was sweating and breathing heavily. Not too much surprise, what happened last night or rather what happened in his dream was quite terrifying and so real. All the years he sometimes thought that all those conversations, all those exchanges he had in the dream was just him being wacky. Even though it seemed so .... real, so authentic. But yesterday was completely different. For the first time in his life, he felt fear. And the pain he endured... even now it persisted. By instinct, Alastor wanted to check the gemstone on his chest. It did not change much in term of size but now it was glowing a dim light and he could clearly a small red glow in the center, although nobody would notice it with a mere glance. "Ascension.... Demon Lord... What the hell was that all about? " he thought to himself. Then he felt something lacking. Something was amiss.


    Then he realized it. Alice. The boy freaked out when he didn’t hear the annoying wake up from Alice as usual. She would usually shake him up while yelling his name, something accompanying with a few slaps in the face. Well it was not like he hated it, rather it soothed him that when he waked up, he would see a cheerful face, albeit an idiot one, of someone he cared about. He also noticed that he did not hear his mother's humming when she cooked breakfast. The house was totally noiseless.


    Not a minute later after being in deep thought, Alastor knew something wasn’t right. Still half asleep, he grabbed his clothes, paced around his bedroom contemplating if he should walk out or not, and finally, he decided to take the leap of faith and opened his room's door. He took two steps out the door. Looking left and right, he saw everything was still in its place. He raced downstairs to see if anyone was there. None. He tried to look around, seeing if Morgan left a note like she always did. But nothing.


    Anxious of what might happened, he took his coat and went out of the house. He spotted footprints in the snow. They leaded to the village. It seemed like someone was coming here and then his family decided to follow that person back to the village. He decided to follow the footprints to see what was going on.


    After arriving at the village, he saw a commotion at the town center. Everyone was gathering there. He looked left and right. People had a scared and confused expression. Just what was happening?


    * * *



    Gazel's POV


    I still couldn't believe what Alec told me this morning. Earlier he barged into our house, screaming how everyone was dead. The boy looked shaken up and could not even speak properly. I had to calm him down for a while before he conveyed to me the horrible thing that happened. After hearing the whole story, I called everyone up to the village center. Rumors have already been spread around like a plague. Better speak the truth now before anyone took them any further.


    "Alright. Now that everyone is here. Tell us what you have just told me earlier. Speak up boy!", I told Alec.


    “Ka….Karl village has been attacked. Everyone there is dead. They are all dead” - the young man trembled as he speaks. You could see the fear in his eyes, as if he has seen hell on earth. Then he continued.


    “I was on my way back from visiting the Guild when I decided to go to nearby villages to sell some stuffs left from the trade at the capital. Then, from afar I saw several column of smoke. At first I thought they were holding a festival or something. But when I got there, all I see it’s blood everywhere. They were all killed. Then I panicked and ran as fast as I could back here. It must have been the bandits. Only they could do this. The others villages in the area have also been attacked. We are the only left. They will surely come here to kill us. Oh god it’s so horrible”


    I was horrified by the story when I first heard it. I knew people there. Some of them were my friends for years. But now it was not the time for mourning.


    “Everyone, please calm yourself. We should not panic now. What we must do is strengthen our defenses. Lote, you go recruit a team of scouts and secure a zone of three kilometers around the village. I want to know everything that come in or out. Pan, go gather equipment from the storage. If there isn’t enough, take from the blacksmith. The others men, please follow me. Women and children should go back to their home. Please don’t worry! As Alec has said, we have asked aid from the Guild for a monster subjugation. With luck, they may come here tomorrow morning.” I called out to every villager.


    All villagers quickly followed my lead. The tension was not as heavy as before. Hearing the Guild sending aid surely calmed them all down. I only hoped that they will make it in time.


    I was still bothered by the news. The Karl village was double the size of his village. Plus, they had a few competent fighters. No bands of bandits in this area were large or organized enough for this scale of attack. It was true that for years villages in this area have been plagued with bandits but they have never been this aggressive. And yet Karl fell so easily. Not to mention that most people of Caine village were simple farmers who have never held a weapon. Something was not right. However, contemplating here all day wouldn’t solve anything. All I could hope for was to pass the night and wait for the adventurers to come.


    For now, I asked Morgan to take the two children who followed us back to the house. Although I preferred for them to stay inside the village, Morgan insisted that she was more than capable enough to defend the kids. I knew that she was no common elf and her mana clearly belonged to an experienced fighter, perhaps even more than more. I have tried to ask her what exactly happened ten years ago for her come in this isolated place, accompanied by two children but each time she avoided the subject and I would not push it further. But I knew it had something to do with the boy and his.... lineage.


    * * *



    The sun has gone down for a few hours and tension was raising. The eerie sound from winter gust only added the stress inside the village. Ever since the announcement at the plaza, everyone has been on edge. Houses have been fortified with wooden planks. The guards have been increased and many have volunteered to join them to protect their families. The women and children stayed inside their houses with closed doors. The men, some had pitchforks, others with rusty swords or even sticks. With just one look, it was obvious that most of them have never even held a weapon in their entire life before. But it was not like they had any other choice. Something or someone has been attacking village after village in the area and theirs was the last standing one. They could not just wait to die. Something had to be done.


    Usually villages and towns were under protection of the royal family. If someone dared to attack them without any provocation, the royal army could be deployed to take care of the threat. If they paid a good amount of taxes or present a good strategy position, the army or at least a squadron would always be around to protect them. However, that was not entirely the case for frontier villages. They were poor and poor people had little to pay for the taxes. And so they were abandoned. Another reason was that villages near the borders of others countries usually were attacked and pillaged by those countries. Since they could not provoke open wars without concrete reasons, small skirmishes like these were more or less ignored as the blame could always be placed on bandits or monsters. So long as the damages were not important enough.


    This was the reason why in case of emergency these villages would call out for help from the Guild of Adventurers. They accepted all kind of requests, as long as they were legal ones and the prices were more reasonable compared to what they have to give to the royal family. If they could hold out until morning, everything would be fine. Or so they hoped. This hope was shattered the moment they heard the bell from the watchtower. What followed was the guards screaming.


    “WE ARE UNDER ATTACK”


    The guards and volunteers quickly grabbed their weapons and moved to their positions. Standing on the wooden wall was Gazel in his old armor. He was the first one to spot moving torches from afar. The enemies numbered at least a hundred. Judging from the moving speed of those torches, they were cavalry.


    Gazel couldn’t believe in what he was seeing. Not only he was amazed by the number of the knights and their heavy equipment. But there was another reason: their banner. On the flag was an emblem of a shield with the image of an eagle on it. It was the banner of Ceadric, their own kingdom. Gazel was shocked by this revelation. He didn’t hear anything about reinforcement from the king nor did he inform the authorities about what happened since he knew they would simply ignore it.


    The villagers were overjoyed when they heard the coming of the imperial army. Their king has not abandoned them after all. Their joy did not last long however.A small boy who has always been fascinated with knights ran to the fence. In a backwater place like this, seeing an entire battalion was rare so he could not miss this chance. The boy excitedly waved his hand to salute the army. And what did he receive in return? An arrow right in the head. The moment he fell down, confusion spread as the villagers started to scream, horrified. Even the guards were not able to keep calmed and start throwing arrows back to retaliate. This time what came back were not arrows but fireballs at the size of a man’s head. Hundreds of them. They came from the ten hooded men standing in front of the imperial army. They each wore a blue robe with golden signs on it.


    ‘Mage’, the word echoed inside Gazel’s mind. They were master of magic who manipulated mana inside their body and surroundings to their will. There were many levels of mages and some even had unique powers. But whatever the case, mages were rare. Only one out of ten can have the potential to be a mage and even so they would have to go through training for years before becoming a master.


    “This is not possible. Army from our own kingdom coming to kill us. If we go outside the knights and archers will massacre us and if we stayed inside, those mages will burn this entire place to the ground. What can we do?” Gazel muttered to himself angrily. This was far worse than what he was expecting.


    “God help us all!”
     
  5. necrophedius

    necrophedius Member

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    Chapter 3: Onslaught



    "They say God loves all his creations. They say all things in this world have a purpose. Then what is the reason of our existence? For what do we live if not to be slaughtered?



    We are Monsters, the first race created by God long before the Primes. We are His children. Yet He cast us aside. Our home, taken from us. Our lives, stolen from us. The Primes have declared their crusade against us. The so called Primes deemed us as evil, mindless creatures that do not deserve to live. They say our existence itself is a sin. Then I ask thee: if we are sin incarnated, then did God committed a sin when He created us? If God committed a sin, then why do we have to pay for it?



    When all hope seemed lost, the Old One came. Seeing our sufferings, She pitied us and gave us her blood so we can break from our shackles, to be free from God. That day, we became something else. That day the First Demon was born."



    - "The First of our kind", Archives of the Vault.


    * * *




    Morgan's POV

    It has been ten years since I stayed in this place. Ten years since that event. And just when I thought I could finally get a peaceful life, it ended too abruptly. It seemed that I have gotten rusty. Looking at the forces outside of Caine village, although it was dark, I could see hundreds of torches. With that kind of numbers outside, this village would fall in no times. Before that happened I had to get the kids out.


    As soon as we got home, I told Alice and Alastor to prepare their bags. They were a bit confused at first but listened to me in the end. Perhaps I have perhaps gotten too accustomed with this 'mother' role.


    As I was preparing my equipment I thought about Gazel. He took me in, gave me food, treated me like his daughter and here I was, abandoning him. "Please forgive me Gazel! But this is more important than both me and you. Whatever happens, the kids must survive. Even if I have to die for it. You can curse me all you want. I am already prepared to go to hell for the sins I have committed.", I thought hard in my place. I imagined the scene if he somehow survived this chaos, what would I say to him? Rather what could I say to him? Then I realized that I was shedding tears. Someone like me could still shed a tear for someone else after all.


    Before I grasped back to reality, Alastor was standing right next to me. He just stood there quietly looking at me. Then he reached his hand to my face to swipe my tears before hugging me.


    "Are you crying mom? Please don't cry! I am sure Grandpa Gazel would understand our reason for leaving, although I don't know it myself" he spoke to me like a proper adult with a gentle smile on fice face. Alastor has always been .... strange but not in a repulsive way. I knew he was special ever since the day I took him away from that place. Always mature than kids his age, sometimes more than some adults I knew. And he was smart, perhaps a bit on the shrewd side. He tried to hide that however because he wanted to act normal but it could not escape my eyes. After all, my 'former' career allowed to detect lies easily so at least that was one thing I was proud of.


    "I am fine honey. Don't worry!" I smiled back at him. Now that I looked at him, he started to resemble more and more to his father. With his silver hair and the two glowing red eyes, "You will be quite dangerous when you grow up" I laughed when I thought about all the girls who would jump at him.


    Then I noticed Alice coming downstairs, running up to me with a worried face. She must have heard Alastor talking about me crying. Always so upright yet so compassionate. She was just like the opposite of Alastor, no perhaps more like they compensated each other. I knew some of the kids from the village bullied Alastor for his timid tendency. But I never had to intervene. Alice would always come to her brother' side to protect him. ‘Protecting the weak is the duty of the strong’ was something like her motto. She must have been heavily inspired by all the heroes in those stories Gazel told her.


    "Never thought I would see the day you cry sister."


    "Shut up! Who say I am crying? It's just I have ... snow in my eyes."


    "Your eyes must be freezing then. Maybe it will cool your head too."


    Alice started pinching Alastor's little cheeks. Now she was angry but her expressions have brightened a little bit. As I said, Alastor was sometimes too smart for his own good. As I looked at both of the children I raised again, I started to question myself: "Will I live to see the day when they are all grown up?".


    Suddenly horse rising noises came from outside.


    * * *



    Alastor's POV


    I was surprised when Gazel told us to stay inside without letting anybody in but him. And what surprised me even more was my mother. I knew that Gazel was an adventurer when he was young so I expected him to have weapons and armors but mother never told us about her life before having us. When she took out two strange looking swords and wore a light chain mail, I was stunned. So was Alice but instead of being dismayed like me, she was looking at mother with admiration. The look that showed a faint hope that one day she would be like her mother.


    We were so different, so much I often wondered if we were even related at all. Well if those rumors about me were true, then I guess I was the adopted one since clearly Alice had those elven ears. Whatever the case, even if we were not related by blood. I considered them my family and loved them. I would do anything to protect them. Anything.


    Suddenly Alice tapped on my head, waking me up from my thoughts.


    “Are you afraid Alastor? Don’t worry! Your big sis is here to protect you!” said Alice while hugging me to her chest. She gave me a smile which I thought was angelic.


    “It’s nothing, sis. Though I would appreciate if you take in consider that face that it’s the duty of a man to protect his family.”, I said firmly, showing my convictions.


    “Hahaha ! Don’t you underestimate us women! I have always been stronger than you, you know.”


    BOOM


    Then I heard sound of explosions from outside. The grounds shook heavily. Alice and I immediately ran to the window. What followed was a giant column of fire rising from the village.


    “What on earth is going on out there?” Alice screamed out. Not surprising at all since it was her first time seeing magic in her life. As for me I had my share of experience with magic a few times, although they were only failures.


    Then I heard the sound of horses approaching. A few riders have stopped in front of our house.


    “Keep quiet both of you. Stay inside until I said it’s clear, understand?”, said mother while keeping a finger in front of her mouth, signaling us to stay quiet. We simply nodded in agreement. She patted us on the head, took her twin swords and went outside. The walls were thin so we could still hear perfectly what was going on outside.


    “My my. I didn’t expect guests so late at this time.”


    “Stay where you are, woman! Drop those swords immediately!”, an angry voice shouted.


    “Calm down, Culan! She is just a peasant. And a beautiful one at that”, a young male voice seemed to try to calm the other.


    “Thank you for the compliment but I would appreciate if you leave now”.


    “The night is still young. Why don’t we ….” The young male voice then stopped immediately, followed by the sound of something falling on the snow. Then a small moment of silence and we heard screams from different people.


    “Oh god. She killed him. How dare you !!!”


    “Seem like I have truly gotten a bit rusty after all these years.” mother’s voice seemed very confidant. What followed could only described as a slaughter. Curious, we peaked our head from the window, only to see a woman seemingly dancing with her twin blades. With every move, blood splattered on the ground. The soldiers were panicking. They did not expect a peasant to be able to kill them so easily.


    The carnage continued until only one knight was left on his horse. I could sense a dangerous aura from this person. During the entire battle with mother, this hooded guy did not move a single inch from his spot even when his comrades were being killed.


    When mother finished her “dance”, the guy just stared at her and clapped his hands, as if thanking for the show.


    “Well done! Well done indeed! I certainly did not expect to encounter someone of your caliber here in this forsaken place. And a Vicar at that.”


    Mother seemed troubled. She was startled when that guy mentioned the word "Vicar". What is a Vicar?


    "How do you know?", mother asked the guy in hood. She knew that this guy was different from the others. Grasping her weapons firmly, Morgan prepared her stance.


    “The emblems on the sword. You must be a Vicar to have those swords. " hearing those words, I could feel her bloodlust increasing from here. Yet the guy seemed unfazed even in this tension. He just continued teasing her.


    "Or you could steal from one. Judging from your expressions though, it seems my guess was correct... Hum but I was not informed of any Vicar doing their missions here. How troubling” The guy scratched his head thinking about something. “ Ah yes where are my manners? I must be so mesmerized by your dance to even forget to introduce myself. Please forgive me, my lady! Ehem, my name is Raventhorne. You can call me Raven for short. May I ask yours?”


    “Morgan” the guy seemed a bit crazy, mom. You didn’t have to answer him.


    “Not a person of words I see. Then let us not delay this any further.” He jumped down his horse and took out a weird weapon. It looked like a sword but very rounded almost like a needle with a very slender and pointy tip.


    Suddenly he rushed toward mother with an amazing speed. The snow on the ground was split into two sides, leaving a trace from his position to mother’s. But mother managed to parry him and gave him a kick to the stomach. Alice was holding her breath in excitement from watching the fight. The other guy was not bad either. Even though receiving a direct hit, he did some acrobatic moves and regained his foothold on the ground. But mother definitely was more experienced and skilled than him.


    They exchanged a few blows after that. Each time more violent and deadlier than the last. The mysterious guy was now exhausted. His heavy breathing could be seen through the hood as a white mist while mother seemed fine. She has maintained her composure and did not even need to change her stance since the beginning.


    Alice was getting worried. She did not to entirely understand the situation but she was worried about mother. She did not know what to do and decided to run outside. I tried to grab her but missed my chance. At that moment, the Raven guy made a dash toward mother. His sword extended and became a lance, gashing at mother. However, when the door opened and Alice ran outside, Morgan was distracted and turned her head back. Raven noticed the child coming out of the house but was unable to stop his attack and pierced Morgan through her stomach. When she fell down he retracted his sword, looking stunned.


    “MOM” me and Alice screamed out. I ran outside to my mom’s side, holding her head on my knees. Alice was crying, calling out to mother. She was in pain but still conscious. I put my hand on her wound. There was so much blooding coming out. I then teared my cloth and made a bandage to close the wound. My hands were trembling; in fact, my whole body was. I was afraid of losing her.


    I was so dismayed by the whole thing until I noticed the knight approaching. But then Alice was standing in front of us, expanding her hand to make a gesture, stopping the knight from approaching. Even though she was still sobbing and tears still came out of her eyes.


    “Relax kid! I would not hit a fallen adversary and I despite those who hit children. That’s just... just wrong you know. Also she was distracted and I am afraid if this continues I would have lost. So take this potion and get out of here. I cannot guarantee that the others would be so kind like me.”, said Raven.


    “How can we trust you? You attack our village and now you tell us you don’t kill children? Do you think we are stupid?”, I shouted angrily.


    The guy did not respond. He simply sighed before throwing the potion on the ground and going back to get on his horse. Before leaving, he rode his horse back to us.


    “Sometimes you don’t have a choice if you want to keep living in this world. If you are not happy with the way this is then be strong and change it. The world is shaped by the strong after all. Become a man and maybe one day we will meet again.”


    As soon as he left, I quickly grabbed the potion and helped mother to drink it. She had some trouble to drink but after a few moments, the wound was already closed, not completely healed but at least she was not in danger anymore.


    “Thank you Alastor. And don’t cry anymore Alice! We got to move soon”


    “I am sorry, mommy”, apologized Alice in tears


    “It’s okay... I am happy as long as you are safe. Now help me get up. We have to get out of here before things get worse”.


    Me and Alice helped her standing up. Mother decided to take a shortcut to avoid the route the solders took. Looking back at the village, now plunged in fire, we could only hope that Grandpa managed to get out of there.


    * * *



    A winged figure was floating in the sky. It was none other than Mikael, one of the six celestial Heralds. Five other figures were flying toward him before stopping and forming a circle.


    “Did you find anything?”, asked Mikael.


    “We have been scouting the entire area and have only found nothing but ruins of destroyed human settlements. The traces indicated that it was recent. Someone must have been attacking those villages one by one in the last few days. Do you think it could be connected to the boy we are looking for?” , said Ikarus.


    “I don’t know. Whatever the case the boy must be somewhere around in this area. I do not imagine a kid being by himself like that so there must be others people with him. Somewhere like a village would be the place we are looking for.... Ah there is Gabriel. You finally came back. Please tell me you find something useful.” Asked Mikael


    “Yes I found a human settlement in the North of here. However while I was there, it was under attack by a group of knights and mages. It doesn't look like they were bandits as the group was very organized, almost like a regiment.”, reported Gabriel seriously.


    “Then we must go there and help them. Villagers in these areas don’t know how to fight. They would be slaughtered at this rate.” , exclaimed Ikarus.


    “I agree that we must go there immediately. But do not misunderstand this Ikarus. We are looking for the boy in the prophecy. Not rescuing humans. We will not interfere so long as the boy does not make his appearance. And who knows? Maybe this attack will lead us to the back. We must limit intervention as much as possible. I don’t want to lose this lead because of some mortals.” ,said Mikael coldly.


    “But ….”


    “Did I not make myself clear enough for you, Executor?”


    “ … Yes milord !”
     
  6. necrophedius

    necrophedius Member

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    Chapter 4: Magnus



    “Let us pray…. Let us sing in communion and feast upon the wretched fiends.

    Blasphemous murderers. Accursed savages.

    Atonement for the wretches.

    By the wrath of the Great Mother.


    Listen to the baleful chant.

    Let us pray…. Let us weep for their sins, for their transgression.

    Let us weep for us, for our salvation.

    For with blood it began and it shall end with blood on our hands.


    We are the sword of the Ragna.

    For we shall give judgement to the wicked.

    Let us free them of their villainous ways.

    Mercy for the poor, guiltless children.”


    A tall man was kneeling down in front of a stone monolith. The man was in his forties, at least in appearance. He had a humanoid figure but with oddly elongated limbs. Wearing a noble attire, he could be confused for someone of royalty if not for his arms, when extended, practically reached his knees with their sharp nails, almost like claws. Yet the most striking feature of this man was the pair of huge bat-like wings on his backs. It was natural. After all the man was a demon. A demon who was praying.


    With his head down and his hands grasping each other in a praying gesture, he was muttering an unusual chant. It was difficult to distinct whether he was praying for himself or instead cursing someone else. The chant itself was quite eerie. It was unusual to curse and at the same time weep for our enemies.


    “How odd! You didn’t quite strike me as a religious man, Mephisto.” A voice spoke from the corner of the room. But Mephisto did not turn back to see who it was. In fact he already knew the answer.


    “Let’s just say that’s a good luck chant.” The man looked at the stone monument and whispered “And a reminder of what happened” he stood up and fixed his clothes. He then turned towards the figure speaking from the corner, who now has revealed itself to be a skeleton in a black robe. The skeleton was holding a creepy staff surrounded in a green glow.


    “How goes the preparation, Noroeth?” Mephisto asked the lich.


    “The Portal is almost ready. Amelia is on the task. I am still surprised she is capable to open one all by herself without a catalyst. I remember how I used to have at least ten acolytes and a mana stone just to maintain one opened. And so small.." Before Noroeth could finish , Mephisto cut him off with a silence gesture.


    "Ah don't even say that word in front of her. She is twice your age you know."


    "I know that but she is smal... I mean humble in term of size, it's difficult to admit defeat in front of a girl barely five foots you know." The lich was disappointed in himself for losing against a little girl.


    “Anyway are you sure we could trust that ? We spent ten years looking and we found nothing. That doll found it the moment it woke up. It just seems a bit sketchy to me." Mephisto was talking about the doll Noroeth found in the Vault yesterday.


    When Noroeth came to him with the doll, he was suspicious. All of this seemed just too convenient for him. Noroeth insisted that the doll was telling the truth but when Mephisto interrogated her on how she knew it, she simply answered "I just know it". Aside from that, Mephisto could not gather any other info from the doll. Going blindly without proper intelligence was against Mephisto's thinking. It was not that he did not trust Noroeth but Mephisto has made a clear stand to view everything with suspicion.


    "I honestly don't know. But when I saw her, I had the impression that I could trust her. It's difficult to explain." It was unheard for a lich to develop a sense of affection or emotion toward someone. But perhaps Noroeth was no normal lich.


    "Hum. I don't really support this expedition but sitting here wondering won't solve us any problem."


    "That's why all of us will be going with you. Safety in numbers. And the doll will be coming too. Amelia's portal may get us there but she could not send us directly to him so we still need the doll it show us the exact location."


    "And if things go down hill, we kill it on spot."


    * * *




    The trio Alastor, Alice and Morgan have just managed to get out of the village. They were now running through a dense forested area. The hidden shortcut certainly saved their lives since unless you were someone from the village, you wouldn’t know about its existence. However, they have left a lot behind in order to get here.


    During their escape, they could hear screams calling for help from the village but Morgan has decided to ignore it despite Alice consistently wanted to go back for them. Morgan already had enough for her hands. She was injured, not fatally but enough to hinder her abilities. In addition, she had two defenseless kids on her hands. If she went back she might not even be able to protect them, let alone saving others. While it was heartless to abandon Gazel who has taken care of her family for ten years, she could not risk losing her children. That was what was keeping the elf to go forward. She could mourn him later but now it was not the time. She ran as fast as she could, holdings hands of the two children. She could finally see an exit from afar. Finally, they would be safe.


    Or so she thought. As soon as they were out of the bushes, a group of chevaliers in armors has already encircled them.


    “So a few rats escaped? You really cannot trust a group of mercenaries after all. Useless bunch. Can’t even finish a few peasants. Finish them off !!!”, a fat man in armor, hiding behind two knights said as he ordered the archers behind him. Five arrows flew toward the trio. Alastor and Alice held together tightly and closed their eyes, preparing for the worse. Then nothing happened.


    They opened their tiny eyes, only to see their mother standing her ground facing them. Blood was coming out of her mouth. The fives arrows pierced her back. You could see the pain on her face and how she tried to hold it. She grasped for breath and tried to say something but no words came out.


    The young girl called out to her, crying. She wanted to run to her mother but a soldier has caught her from behinds.

    "This one would make a good slave. Look at her red hair. I know some noble who would pay hundreds of gold coin for someone like her. Ha ha ha!" the fat laughed out loud. All he could think of was the money and promotion he was going to get after finishing this mission.


    Alastor remained still, shocked by what he was seeing. He wanted to cry but he could not. He wanted to save his sister but his hands were tied by the two soldiers behind him. He just stood there, without uttering a single sound. One look at him and you might say he had given up.


    Then something changed. His eyes started to lose their crimson colors before turning completely black. His pupils could no longer be seen. Something dark was invading him.


    "ALL OF YOU WIL DIE!", the new Alastor proclaimed.


    * * *



    Alastor's POV


    We finally managed to get out of the forest. After that awful ordeal we had to ignore the call for help of others villagers just to save our skin. Honestly aside from mother, Alice and grandpa, I did not hold much affection for the rest of the village. The kids always bullied me and the adults were staying away from me. But none of them deserved this.


    “I am sorry grandpa. I am sorry everyone.” I thought to myself as I wiped away my tears and just continued to run. As we got out of the forest, I thought we would be safe. But my stupidity got ahead of me. Soldiers already surrounded us. End of the line. I was afraid of dying but most importantly losing my family. And here I was. Weak, coward. My mother lied dead before me and my sister taken away right in front of me.


    “Please at least my family! I would do anything! Please !!!”, I murmured to myself in vain. Suddenly everything around me went black and I heard a small voice calling out to me. Then it became louder and louder. I knew this voice. The one from the dream.


    “We finally meet young Alastor. Would you do anything to save your sister? Anything?” the voice said. It was a deep voice and certainly not a human one. But I was not afraid of it, more like curious.


    “You were from that dream. Who or what are you?” I asked the mysterious voice.


    “That was no dream young Alastor. Everything you have seen until now in your so called 'dreams' actually happened. Including those you have met like Asmodeus and Beelzebub. You are currently in the Abyss, a dimension reflecting your true self. To put it simply It's an image of your soul. Time has no influence in this place. The past, the present and the future are all intertwined in this place. So take all the time you need to ask your question."


    I was confused. A voice just talked to me in my head and spouted some none sense which I could not make out of anything. My heart was beating so fast I almost forgot to breath. I had to calm down and think logically. This thing might just be the only way to save my family.


    “Then first question: what happened last night ?” For now I should focus on gathering as much info as possible. It would allow me to think of something.


    “Your Ascension took place. You had awakened the demon blood in you and has been chosen as the new demon lord. Rejoice, young one! For you will obtain power you could not even imagine in your wildest dream. As the new demon lord, this means that you are now able to use the gift of Legacy, the power of your predecessors which resided in your blood, waiting to be awaken."


    Frankly speaking, I have thought of the possibility that I was a demon. I was sure that I was no elf since I did not have the ears, clearly not human because of that weird crystal on my chest. As for dwarf, beastman and celestial, clearly no signs of any attributes from one of the races. All that was left was the demon race. Also the fact that mother always tried to confine me at home. I knew something was up. But a demon lord ? That was something else entirely.


    "What is this Gift you talked about?", I asked my second question.


    "Each generation of demon lord, when reached the peak of their power, can obtain a special skill unique to them. When they die, a portion of their power is imprinted in their blood and passes to the next generation. This means that every demon lord can use the power of the previous demon lords before them. This power is called Legacy and you can use it however you like."


    All the powers of the demons lords who have existed. With that kind of power, I could surely save mother and sister. My excitement was cut short however.


    "But..."


    "But what?"


    "You don't get the power immediately. Remember those shadows you saw. Those are the previous demons lords. They have to give their power to you willingly before you could use them. That leads us to our problem. Currently you only have two Legacies from Asmodeus and Beelzebub. Use them wisely and you can wipe out the attacking easily but as for our guests from above, it's hopeless. You are still far too inexperienced and your body is too fragile."


    "...Then what's the catch? You can't be giving me this power without anything in return. Destroy the world or something like that I assume?" I may be a kid but I knew how the world worked. Anything came with at a price. The question was whether you were willing to pay it.


    "None at all. At least not from us. As the new demon lord, people will seek you out and try to kill you everywhere you go. That's more than enough of a disadvantage. What we want is free will, the power of choice, for you to determinate your own fate and perhaps your actions will bring consequences to the world."


    I did not really understand what it meant at that time. Freedom, from what ? But I did not have time to sit there thinking.


    "Very well then. I accept!" I answered swiftly without thinking twice. "As long as my family is safe". If they would be saved then to me this was the perfect deal. I did not care about being the demon lord. I did not care about power. All I wanted was my family.


    "Perfect. Everyone, gather up!" As soon the voice commanded, hundreds of shadows appeared behind me. Then I finally saw the true form behind the mysterious voice. A dark sphere with a red crystal in the shape of an eye inside it. From it, hundreds of chain slashed out, binding the shadows. One final chain threw itself at me and pierced me. Damn it hurt.


    "You will wake up soon. Good luck, Alastor! About the two Legacies, Asmodeus and Belz will talk you through it quickly before you woke up again. Now be gone!"


    "Wait! I still don't know what to call you."


    "You can call us... me Magnus."


    * * *



    "And... he is gone. You know you could just take over his body and use it against those winged bastards. He is just a kid. Never have a battle in his entire life. He is just getting himself killed. And that affects us as well." one of the shadow said worriedly to Magnus.


    "Either way he is going to die anyway. Why not let him choose how?" Magnus said as if he pitied the boy, someone who he just threw into the endless cycle.


    "Are you serious that you will let him die? Just like that?", Belz intervened.


    "If he die, I quit. Screw the others who will come after him." Asmodeus was angry. She was quite fond of Alastor and clearly not happy hearing Magnus would let him die.



    "Don't you worry! He won't die! He can't!"
     
  7. necrophedius

    necrophedius Member

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    Chapter 5: Meetings



    "Day 1

    The war has finally broken out with the demons. Today we moved our force to invade the continent of Ragna, where the demon force is based in. Our lord had given us a specific mission: find a safe shortcut to the demon lord's castle. If it succeeds, a special squad can move in quickly and assassinate the demon lord, thus ending this war swiftly. Our group is composed of seven experienced adventurers of rank A. Surely this would be more than enough for a scout mission.



    Day 2

    Although the forest was filled with monsters, we managed to get out safely without losing any injuries. This is too easy.



    Day 3

    One of our rogues found a small cave behind a waterfall. We decided to make it as our temporary base for this mission. The position is perfect. A nearby water source. The waterfall will mask our traces so no one will find us here.



    Day 4

    We lost one man today. He fell in fissure. Damn bastard was stupid. He thought he heard something and fell down there by himself. But I don't mind: the less we are, the bigger our share.



    Day 5

    A fight broke out between the two swordsmen. Each claimed that the other tried to kill him. Luckily we managed to stop the fight before they kill each other. Now we lost two of our main fighters. Tomorrow we will let them stay at the cave with the priest.

    Weird... they used to be best friends before the trip.



    Day 6

    I killed the priest today. When we went back to the cave, she just jumped on me and tried to stab me with a knife. She used to be so gentle. How can this happen? We found the two swordsmen already dead on their beds, their throats slit open with a sharp object. Did the priest kill them ? Why?



    Day 7

    Now I know why all this weird thing happened. There must be a traitor among us. He wants us to kill each other to take all the money for himself. It must be. The word 'traitor' keeps repeating itself in my mind. But which one is the traitor? Cole or Jack ?



    Day 8

    I killed the two traitors. I saw them whispering to each other behind my back when I was scouting. They must have been planing to kill me to get the gold all to themselves. But I was quicker than them. I moved first. At first they yelled at me about how I misunderstood. When I finally stabbed one, the other started crying and begged me to let him go. Taking me for a fool... as if a traitor would admit to be one. I took his head and smashed it into a nearby rock. Now the money is all mine.



    Day 9

    There must be another traitor. Apparently it's a woman since the voice was female. I could hear her whispers everywhere I go. She must be hiding somewhere around here.



    Day 15

    I still could not find her. But I could hear her voice. It just keeps getting louder and louder. I searched carefully, sought every possible trace but still nothing.



    Day 20

    Why am I still writing this damn diary? I can't stop. My hands just move on its own as it writes down my every thought. And I keep hearing her damn voice. Suddenly I felt a chill behind my back. I turned my head around: she was behind the whole time. And there she asked: "Would you die for me?"



    -end of entry- "



    - Diary of an unknown soldier




    * * *




    "ALL OF YOU WILL DIE", the reborn Alastor proclaimed. His voice was filled with anger. But in his mind, he was calm. More like he could not afford to be agitated right now. The life of his family was on the line.


    He has been talked with Asmodeus and Belz about the two powers he received. But he discovered that these abilities were not really meant for offensive strategy. He would have to use them wisely to win this battle.


    Watching a ten year old kid making such a statement, the fat general could not hide the anger on his face. A mere peasant dared defy his authority. Unacceptable. He ordered the mage beside him to kill the boy.


    "Javis, kill that brat right now!"


    'This ugly pig dares giving me order me. If I have not accepted this mission from Father Terrick, I would have ...' thought the mage while making a dispirited expression. He looked at the boy, pitied him for facing Javis. 'Don't hate me for this, brat! I am just doing my job.'


    Javis raised his staff and launched a fireball at the young lad. But the boy was smiling. He has waited for this moment since the beginning. Alastor raised his hand toward the incoming fireball.


    " <Alastor's Endless Hunger: Devour>" Alastor murmured softly.


    A black hole opened on his hand before completely sucking the fireball into it. From afar it was as if the boy has just catched the fireball with his hand before crushing it. The soldiers, including the mage Javis and the fat man could only stood there, wondering what just happened. Did the spell fail ? Could this boy also be a mage ?


    As for Alastor, he kept checking his hand if it was burned. Nothing. Instead he now had a weird hole on both of his hands.


    'Amazing! So it's true. Belz's Legacy allowed to absorb all form of mana for myself. Even now I could feel that my own mana has increased, although only a little bit.' Alastor analyzed in his head his new found power. 'Lucky me since a mage attacked first. If it was an archer or a swordsman, I would be dead'


    "What the hell do you just stand there for? Keep firing you idiot!" the general shouted at the mage.


    Hearing the shout, Javis came back to reality and this time fired a succession of ten fireballs. But it was for naught. The boy just made all the fireballs disappear into thin air.


    "And you bunch of idiots. Don't just stand there! Do something!!!" This time, the general yelled to the soldiers near Alastor. He started to panic. He did not expect to encounter resistance in this kind of place.


    The soldiers, hearing their commander's orders, started encircling the child. They now saw him as a real potential threat, not just a normal farm boy like before. But it was all according to what Alastor had in mind. In fact since earlier, he had waited for the soldiers to come closer while gathering enough mana from the mage. He could now use the second ability he had received.


    " <Asmodeus' Dominion: Absolute Authority>"


    A dark mist engulfed Alastor before launching into multiples projectiles at the soldiers. The knights immediately raised their shields to defend but the mist simply passed right through it before entering the knights' body. As it entered, the knights fell to their knees before standing up again. But something changed in them. Their eyes were lifeless, as if what was left was simply a corpse. They now turned toward the other group of knights surrounding the general.


    "Slay them!" Alastor shouted as he pointed toward the fat man on his horse.


    What came next could be simplified by a slaughter between the two sides. The knights who maintained their conscience were caught off guard. They were not prepared to fight against their own. The mage immediately ran into the forest as he realized the severity of the situation. The general was not that quick however. He was stunned by the scene before him. He kept shouting at the knights to stop fighting but no one listened to him anymore.


    Even his horse, agitated by the surroundings knights, kicked him off and ran away. Before he could even regain himself from the fall, a knight approached him, raised his sword before plunging it into the fat man's head.


    Now that the fight was over. Alastor rushed to his mother' side. She was covered in blood but still breathing. He still had some of the potion the Raven guy had given him. He immediately poured the rest into Morgan's mouth. But without proper care, she would not last long.


    Although heavily injured, Morgan was not unconscious. Her years of training has allowed to overcome the pain and this situation was no exception. She saw how Alastor did. She was not surprised by these new found powers. She already expected those. But the thing she was back was that it came too soon. But for now she would simply smile to Alastor. At least it would ease his concern for her.


    Alice, now freed from the knights, also rushed to Alastor and her mother. She could not speak properly as her eyes were swollen by the tears she cried. She could simply hug Alastor and her mother.


    Their reunion was cut short however.


    "So here you are. We finally found you, you little demon !", a voice came from above.


    The six heralds and Ikarus finally arrived. They have observed the situation from the sky since the beginning. At first Mikael did not think much of the boy. He could not sense any mana from him. He thought perhaps the boy in question was someone else. Until he saw Morgan. He recognized her face. The face that reminded him of his mistakes. The face that has haunted him for the last ten years. Now he knew it was this boy and none other. He did not care about the death of all those innocent villagers. Sacrificing the few to save the many. It was the most plausible solution to him.


    'Celestials... So these are the guests Magnus mentioned. I could feel the pressure they emit even from here. I don't have any offensive attack and at my level, <Absolute Authority> won't work against them. We need to move out of here.' was what Alastor had in mind. But it was too late.


    In an instant, he teleported to Alice and has taken her hostage before teleporting back to the other celestials. He was sure that the boy was no match for Ikarus, let alone six heralds. But he wanted the boy alive and he saw how Alastor manipulated those men. It was better to be careful than sorry later. The end justifies the means, no matter how dishonorable it is.


    The celestial drew out his luminous sword as if it was made from light itself and put it to Alice's neck.


    "Surrender or this girl won't live to see another day" said Mikael. With this it was checkmate.


    Unknown to him, the celestial Ikarus did not share his point of view. She was raised to be an Executor, one who holds justice above all, even among celestials. The kind of person who would rather die than committing something this despicable. She wanted to unsheathe her sword but for now she remained silent.


    "Release her Mikael! She had nothing to do with this.", said Morgan with her weak voice.


    Mikael smirked at the frail Morgan now half way to death's door. He dropped his sword but still held Alice tight at his arm around her neck. "You brought this on yourself when you decided to turn against us that day, Morgan. Did you even think about what you did? That boy's life is nothing compared to the peace of this world. And look what you have been doing these ten years! Playing house with that demon. Did you even tell him the truth ?"


    "No... Stop it Mikael..." Morgan began to lose her composure. She tried to walk up to Mikael but her legs were giving in. She then tried to crawl with her hands but Alastor stopped her as he was afraid that her wounds would open.


    "About how you kill his parents?"


    "No... that's not..."


    "I pitied you demon. Not only did you lose your real parents the day you were born, you were adopted by the one responsible for their death." Mikael gave off a sneer to Alastor.


    "Mom, what did he mean?" The young Alastor was now confused. Not only was he facing with an unbeatable enemy, these things he was hearing. Talks about his real parents. Their death.


    "I....I...." Morgan could not say anything to Alastor. She was overwhelmed with grief. Images of that event started come back to her.


    "Time to end this charade!" As he finished his sentence, Mikael threw a rope made of light toward Alastor. But it was cut by a pair of claws at incredible speed.


    A tall man with demonic wings in a noble attire now stood in front of Alastor. Four others followed him: lich in a black robe, a girl dressed in white with a cold expression, a three-headed wolf like beastman, a small girl in a luxurious robe mixed with black and purple holding a small blue slime.


    "FEAR ME MORTALS!" shouted the slime while trying to make a spooky voice but ended up with a ridiculous one.


    ....


    No one uttered a single words. The newly arrivals made a disappointed impression as their comrade's attempt to make an entrance only made them look even more ludicrous.


    The girl holding the slime and whispered. "Shut up and read the mood you idiot!". She tried to stretch the slime to make him shut up.


    "Ahem", Mephisto was irritated. But he tried to remain his composure and started talking. "Ignoring that. Are you all just being mean to the kid here? Six celestials ganging up on "


    Mikael was furious. He did not expect the demons to act so soon. Not to mention he knew who these four people were. The only he did not recognize about was the lich and the girl in white.


    "And are you rude to interrupt someone else's conversation, Mephisto? How about you damn bastards just wait there for your turn? We will exterminate you in the name of God."


    "Watch your language, boy! There are children around. Try to stay civilised! Or have you filled your heads with all that God thing so much you could not even appreciate a sense of decency" Mephisto made a mocking gesture, provoking the celestials even more.


    "YOU FLYING CHICKEN!!!", clamored the slime.


    That was it. The line was crossed.
     
  8. necrophedius

    necrophedius Member

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    Chapter 6: Angels vs Demons



    "THAT'S IT. YOU WILL PAY FOR THAT." one of the herald, Uriel, roared as he blitzed toward the young girl holding the slime. His sword clashed against a gigantic axe in the way. In an instant, he was sent off to the sky but thanks to his pair of wings, he managed to regain his balance midair. It was the three headed wolf beastman.


    "Your opponent is me!" the beastman said as he swung his titanic axe.


    The others heralds have also taken our their weapons and prepared for battle. Even Mikael. He turned to Ikarus.


    "Ikarus, take the girl! If she try to run, kill her. Also watch out for the boy!" Ikarus nodded in agreement but her heart was telling her to do something else. Something that might cost her life. She reluctantly took Alice into her arms. But as soon as Mikael flew away, she whispered to Alice.


    "Don't worry! Stay still and I promise nothing is going to happen to you." she tried to reassure the little girl.


    "I don't care about me. Just don't hurt my brother and mother please... Hic ...hic" Alice tried to hold back her cries. Her body was trembling in fear but she could still spout those words that made the celestial clenched her fist.


    * * *




    As for the demon's side, the demons have prepared. Mephisto gave out the orders to everyone.


    "I will take on Mikael and the angel beside him. Each of you takes on another one. That celestial holding the girl is staying behind so be careful in case she jumps in. As for you doll...."


    "My name is Stella." the doll spoke coldly.


    "..well then Stella, take care of the boy. He is vital to us. And be careful around that woman Morgan. We can't afford to let us trick us a second time." Mephisto did not fully trust the doll yet. But in this situation he had no choice.


    The doll nodded before dashing towards Alastor. As she approached the boy, she saw a woman in question covered in blood. A complex feeling, unknown to the doll, started to make the doll ponder about something. But as soon as she tried to touch the woman, the little boy beside her took a nearby sword and pointed it at her.


    "Don't touch her! Who are you people?" Alastor said in an intimidating voice.


    "I am not your enemy, master Alastor." the doll replied.


    How did she know Alastor's name? This was the first time they met yet Alastor felt strangely familiar as if he knew her for a very long time. He dropped his sword and decided to trust this person in front of him. Was it because of his naivety ? Or something else ?


    "Please save her!" he begged the stranger in front of her.


    "If that is what you wish." Stella crouched down to Morgan' side as she casted a healing spell on her. She told Alastor to hold Morgan as she tried to remove the arrows. With each arrow out, Morgan screamed out in pain. Soon it was over.


    When the doll was healing his mother, Alastor saw that her hands were not human. In fact they did not even belong to a living being. It was a wooden doll's hand.


    "You ... You are a doll. Sorry I did not mean anything offensive behind that. It's just the first time I see a doll." Alastor stuttered.


    "Please don't worry, master! And you can call me Stella" she replied.


    "Why do you keep calling me master? It's the first time we even meet." Alastor asked in confusion.


    "Because you are my master." she answered coldly.


    Alastor wanted to ask her more questions but he realized now it was perhaps not the perfect time. As the healing was done, with Morgan now unconscious, Alastor started to remember what happened earlier. He had so many questions for her about his real parents: who were they ? Did they really die? And why did that celestial say that Morgan was responsible. But one thing at a time, he needed to save Alice first.


    "Stella, I need to save my sister. Would you lend me a hand?"


    "Of course, master! Whatever you wish." Stella kneeled down before Alastor, putting on her hand on her chest, as a display of her loyalty.


    "And you can stop with that 'master' thing. Just call me Alastor!"


    "But... if that's what you want, Alastor! I await your orders."


    "It's very simple. Make sure to catch me!"



    * * *



    "My name is Uriel. Remember the name of the one who will kill you, demon spawn!" Uriel said with a majestic voice.


    "The name is Naberius. Likewise, don't forget to mention my name when I send you back to your maker." the head in the middle of the beastman said. His voice was filled with excitement.


    For the last years, Naberius has not fought anyone decent. Mephisto wanted them to lay low. But now as if the beast was unleashed from its chains, Naberius laughed with hysteria. The thrill of battle, the smell of blood shed and the uncertainty of its outcome. Oh how he missed those.


    " <God is my light>" Uriel made the first move. His body was engulfed in a protective radiating armor. His sword flickered and turned into a luminous lance. "Prepare to die, demon!". He dashed toward Naberius and thrust his spear repeatedly with amazing speed.


    But Naberius has defended Uriel's attack with his axe. The head of the axe was so big it could serve as a shield. But no normal man could even handle such a weapon as it was too heavy. For Naberius however, he could control it with ease as if it weighted nothing,


    "My turn!" Naberius said with a grin of his face.


    He used the axe's handle and hit Uriel in the face. With one handle, he caught the angel by his neck and threw him into the air.


    Receiving a blow to the head, Uriel was stunned but before he could realize it, his body was in the air. The next moment he saw Naberius right above him, holding the axe with both of his hands, making a plunging attack.


    Naberius executed a vertical cleave. The force of the attack was so powerful it made a hole in the ground with Uriel's body. One would think no one could survive such an attack. But then Uriel stood up from the hole. He was only lightly injured. The armor has protected him well although it has suffered a few cracks


    "You dare!" screamed Uriel.


    * * *



    "Where are you hiding you demon?" the celestial Raphael screamed in anger while searching for his opponent. When Helel told him that he should deal with the slime while she would take care of the small girl, he thought it would be too easy. The slime has jumped from the girl's arms into the forest and he has pursued it. But now it seemed that he lost it.


    "....." the slime tried to remain silent.


    "You coward, come out right now"


    "I am right here, you know!"


    "What? Where?"


    "You are stepping on me, you chicken bastard!"


    At that moment Raphael realized he has literally walked into a trap. Since this was at the end of winter, he did not suspect the slime to be hiding as a water puddle.


    Several icicles shot from the puddle. Luckily for Raphael, his foot were quick enough to jump and cover himself behind a tree. The puddle started changing form, back to a slime.


    "You sneaky little shit!", Raphael cursed the slime. He raised his right hand, covered in chains and launched the chain towards the slime but it split itself into two, avoiding the chain.


    "How rude! At least let me time to present myself!" the two slimes now said the same thing.


    "I have no need to hear the name of a demon, especially one who is going to die." another chain attack but this time was a horizontal cleave which cut down easily multiples surrounding trees easily. But none managed to even touch the slime. Thanks to its small size, the slimes' movement were so quick normal eyes could not catch on.


    "For someone who is the Archangel of Wisdom, you seem terribly dull. You don't even know my name. Me, the Great Azurus. But I guess you can't ask much from a chicken. With their little head and such." One of the slime continued to taunt Raphael, whose face was red in anger while the other kept bouncing around. " COME AT ME YOU CHEEKY WALLY!"





    * * *



    "So....", said the celestial Helel reluctantly.


    "Yes ?", asked Amelia, the little girl in a luxurious robe in black adorned with multiple golden ornaments on it.


    "Are you just going to sit there? Not doing anything?". Helel was baffled by the situation in front of her. Ever since that slime went to the forest with Raphael chasing him, this little girl has just sit there, doing absolutely nothing. But Helel would not get her guards down so soon.


    Unlike Raphael who refused to learn about the demons, Helel actually knew quite a lot about the demon world. For her, the key to victory is the ability your opponent. So she spent years after years, going through archives and texts to learn more about the demons. Their leader, best fighters, organization, etc.


    She was more like a bookworm rather than a leader. In fact she did not even want to be elected herald. But her friends thought her expertise on demons would make a fine addition to the herald's rank. So she accepted the position only one year ago. She thought things would go by peacefully. The demon king was gone. The rest of the demons were confined at Ragna. So there were not much to do as a herald aside from a few meetings she had to attend.


    Yet look at her now. In front of one of the most influential and powerful demon. This seemingly harmless girl in front of her was the Witch Amelia. She has served the last three generations of demon lords, always being in their royal guards. Cunning and cruel, the worst kind of opponent Helel would want to go against. The same witch who slaughtered three hundred celestials by herself in one single attack.


    Her thoughts was disrupted by the witch.


    "There is no need for us to fight. By keeping you here, I have already fulfilled my mission. Now how about some tea?" Amelia asked as she made a tea set with two cups coming from no where. She took the tea pot and filled the two cups. She then pushed one of the cup to Helel's side, inviting Helel to sit down.


    Had it been any other celestial, they would have refused and attacked Amelia by now. But Helel was different. Not special but she knew what would happen if she drew her weapon. Behind the innocent smile of Amelia hided a terrifying aura. Helel was experiencing fear for the second time of her life. The first was when she first saw Amelia ten years ago. The image of a young child covered in blood walking on a mountain of corpses.


    Then Helel realized it. If she could keeping Amelia here, the others might be able to come and help her. The four demon royal guards might be tough but she did not know about the lich and the girl. Surely they could not be at the same level as Amelia.


    And so Helel decided to sit down and accept the invitation. But the moment she took the cup on her hand, one thing crossed her mind. "What if this is poisoned? What if this is part of the witch's plan?".


    BAM. Helel fainted from a head blow from behind.


    "What's wrong with your opponent?", asked the person who hit Helel from behind. It was Azurus the slime.


    "I am afraid that my fear aura worked a bit too well. Been a long time I have not used it so I put on a bit too much power. What about you? Done already?" Amelia asked gently.


    "That guy is an idiot. I just have to leave a few of my clones back there to play with him." Azurus replied while making a victory sign with his body.


    "Well then. Let's finish this and go home. I need to refill my tea pot."



    * * *



    Alastor's POV


    Leaving mother behind a tree, I casually walked to the celestial who was holding his sister hostage.


    "Hold it right there! Don't take another step!", the celestial shouted at me.


    I stopped going any further. I knew that I would not be able to use force to take back my sister. The celestial already saw Stella so she could not use the element of surprise on her. Also I did not know the extent of Stella's abilities. I had to carry out my plan by myself. All I hoped was that Stella would be able to hold the celestial back after that.


    "What does a high celestial like yourself have to fear from a kid like me? I may be young but I am not stupid. I have already lost so if you let my sister go, I will surrender myself willingly. Just promise that you would do that! Or do you really want to kill a child to capture another one?" I did mean every word of it. If there were really no other choice, I would gladly take Alice's place.


    But I obtained something I did not expect. The celestial seemed a bit taken back by what I said. Now that I remembered, when that guy Mikael passed Alice to her, she had a disturbed expression. As if she did not want to do it. Could it be? Should I gamble on it?


    "You would not do something that dishonorable would you ?" I continued.


    "OF COURSE NOT"


    That was it. She was exactly like Alice. The type who held justice and honor above all. Now I was sure that my plan would work.


    "Release her first. Even if I try to run from this distance, you could catch me easily." I said to the celestial.


    At first she hesitated but the moment she released her hands, Alice ran toward me.


    "Are you ok, sis.... " SMACK. It hurt like hell. I could not even finish what I was saying and Alice just gave me a slap to the face. I did not understand why she did that. Until she showed me her face.


    "You idiot brother. You scared the shit out of me. I thought you would die when that mage threw a fireball at you. Idiot! idiot!", Alice said as she tried to punch me further. But it did not hurt. So I just let her continue and took the beating.


    "Sorry to interrupt but we don't have all day. Come now, boy!"


    I pushed Alice but she would not let me go.


    "This is for your safety Alice! Please let me go!" I said to Alice.


    "NO NO NO! I would not lose you."


    "Please! Or the bad lady bird will kill both me and you. This is the only way!"


    "NO" Alice took a tree branch on the ground and stood in front of me. She pointed it toward the celestial. "I would not let anyone take my brother from me." I found it quite funny. She was trembling in fear yet she stood up for me still. I expected nothing less from my sister.


    "I..." The celestial could not say another word.


    As I thought this lady celestial was the kind of person who would not resort to cheap tactics like that guy Mikael. If I could create doubts in her, I would win. And I did.


    "Very well" The woman withdrew her sword."I did not consent to this kind of underhanded ploy in the first place. I will let you go for now. But know this demon. There won't be next time."


    Finally we did it. The others must still be fighting. Now we just needed to go back to mother and use the confusion to get out of here. Or so I thought.







    * * *



    "The situation does not look good for us, Lords Mikael. Helel is down and Raphael has fallen into the enemy's trap. If we continue, I am afraid we would not walk out of here alive.", the celestial explained his concern to Mikael through his mind, who was in midst of a battle with Mephisto.


    Mikael would not accept those words. He could not admit defeat. But reality was cruel. He could sense two powerful aura approaching his location. Even together with Gabriel, they were only on par with Mephisto. If another two came, they would surely lose.


    However he still had one option left.


    "Call everyone back to Ikarus' location. We will settle it there.", he gave his orders to Gabriel.


    In an instant, Gabriel has used a spell to teleport all celestials back to Ikarus. The demons soon followed and now everyone has gathered back where Alastor was. But what shocked Mikael was Ikarus has let the girl go and now they were running away.


    "Damn you Ikarus, you useless!" he yelled at Ikarus, who seemed to have a satisfied expression on her face.


    "That's what you get for resorting to dishonorable means, Lord Mikael! I am prepared to accept my punishment but I will not pursue that boy any longer. Not today." As Ikarus declared, she dropped her sword to the ground, making Mikael even angrier. But he could not deal with her now. The demon threat was right in front of him. In his mind there was no other choice. He turned to Mephisto


    "I admit you are strong. But it matters not. I know not what the boy means to you but at least you won't have him."


    As Mikael proclaimed, he created a luminous spear and threw it towards Alastor. The young boy only had a second to turn his head back before realizing his incoming death.


    But then nothing. There was no pain. Was that how death was supposed to be? Like a gentle embrace?


    Alastor reopened his eyes but he saw no spear. Only a gentle smile from his mother. She looked with tenderness. Her hands reached to his face,


    "I am sorry, Alastor! I neither deserve your forgiveness nor your sympathy. But please take care of your sister for me!"


    "Mo..m ?" spoke Alastor haltingly.


    "I am proud to be your mother, Alast...or!" Those were the final words of Morgan. She collapsed on the ground. The spear that pierced her has turned to dusk, leaving behind a bloody body.


    "MOM!" screamed Alastor and Alice.


    "Mom, please stand up! Please, mom!" Alastor tried to cover the wound from the spear with his hand. "Please Stella! Help her! I beg you!" He turned to the doll next to him.


    "I am sorry but there is nothing I can do. She is already gone." the doll answered as she looked down to the ground, apologetic.


    Before anyone could act, Mikael was already in front of Alastor and drew a sword on his neck.


    "A pest till the very end. Don't worry! You will join her soon!" Mikael smirked. Finally victory was at his hand. It was regrettable that he could not bring the boy back alive but at least this would not be a failure. He waved his sword in the air and performed a guillotine.


    Half way down he could not move his arm. It was by caught by a small arm. How could such a delicate arm could block an attack from one of the strongest celestial?


    The tiny hand clutched so tightly Mikael could not even move away. He looked down the small boy holding his arm. It was no boy. The looks in his eyes, filled with hatred. The thirst for vengeance bursted all bounds. In his mind, he cursed the ones who killed the villagers. He cursed the ones who took his family away from him. But most of all, he cursed himself for his powerless. He was too naive, one or two special abilities would not make a boy into a man. He was the same feeble as before.


    'The one who took away my dear mother. And the weak child who failed to protect her. They die today' that was the last thought, what was left of his rationality, before giving in into insanity.


    "Suffer!"


    A single word from the boy. Mikael was screaming in pain. He could feel his arm being suck into the boy's hand. No matter how he struggled, he could not fend off this force.


    "Die!"


    The absorption increased. Mikael's right arm was already crushed. At this rate, the celestial would be sucked whole into that black hole. But then with a single slash, Mikael was burst away. Ikarus has reacted in time, taking the decision to cut Mikael's arm. She could not retrieve his arm as it was already devoured by Alastor's hand. But it was better an arm than his life. She took Mikael, moaning in pain, and tried to fly away toward the others celestials.


    "You will not get away!", Alastor claimed as he lifted both of his arm and created a black orb. He then threw it toward the celestials. The orb exploded and expanded into a gigantic dark sphere but Ikarus and the others, including the demons were fast enough to avoid its range.


    "Not over yet!", Alastor proclaimed.


    The sphere now retracted back to only a tenth of its initial size, almost like a single black dot floating on the sky. In an instant, everything around was sucked into this tiny dot. The trees in the surrounding areas, the earth near it. Not even the light from the moon could escape from it.


    "Lord Mikael, we need to get out of here right now! Or it will suck us in!" Gabriel screamed to the injured Mikael.


    But Mikael was already out of his mind. He was afraid. The mixture of pain from a lost arm and the taste of fear was quite a dangerous combo. He continued mumbling some intangible words, not even paying attention to what was going on around him.


    "Forget about him! Get us out of here or we all die!" Ikarus shouted at Gabriel. Gabriel nodded in agreement. Soon they were being engulfed in by a bright light and disappear into thin air.


    "Alastor stop! You will kill us all!" Mephisto tried to shout at the boy but his words could not reach him. It seemed like not even sounds could escape from this black hole. And if the demons tried to come closer to Alastor, they would be instantly sucked in. The only two would could stop him now were Alice and Stella. Both were unknown to Mephisto.


    "Brother stop!" Alice wailed at Alastor. She tried to stand up but kept losing balance and fell to the ground.


    "I... can't... control...it" Alastor tried to stop the spell but to no avail. At that this even him and Alice would be sucked into it.


    But then someone hugged him from behind. She pressed her chest onto his head and wrapped her arms around his. Then she gently whispered into his ear.


    "Calm down! Listen to my voice! Breath, Alastor!" Her voice echoed inside his mind. 'Do you trust me Alastor?"


    He was baffled. Although the girl did help him before, he has only recently met her and now she was asking him to trust her. But strangely he did, without a single doubt.


    "Yes I do!" Alastor replied


    "Then close your eyes! This would only hurt a little!"


    As he closed his eyes, he felt calm. Then he felt a slight discomfort on both of his arms. But it did not hurt at all. On the contrarily he felt at peace. Thus he fell deeper and deeper unconscious.


    The orb was already gone. The catastrophe was averted.


    Alastor fell unconscious but Stella caught him and slowly put him on the ground, with his head placing on her laps. Mephisto and the others rushed Both of Alastor's arms were crystallized. What might seemed like a tranquil scene from Alastor's point of view, shocked everyone. Both of Alastor's arms were crystallized.


    "What did you do to him?" Mephisto drew his claws toward Stella.


    But the doll felt no fear. She simply replied.


    "Please lower your tone. He is sleeping!"


    "You..." Before Mephisto could continue, Noroeth the lich interfered.


    "Please calm down. She did not harm him. In fact she has saved us all" Noroeth continued to convince Mephisto to trust the doll. But in his mind, he was now the one who trusted her the least. But right now it would be preferable to keep her around.


    'That was Crystal Magic! It can't be...', Noroeth the lich was the most dismayed by this performance. He knew about this magic. He knew it too well.


    "Let's just bring them back to the castle! It's not safe here! Then you can continue your little chat later!" the witch Amelia interrupted.


    "Very well. Let's head back! Naberius, take the boy please!" Mephisto said.


    "What about the girl?" Azurus asked as he jumped down on the ground, staring at a frightened Alice.


    "We can't just leave her there. It's his sister after all." Noroeth commented.


    "Wait what about Grandpa and mother?" asked Alice in confusion.


    "I am sorry to say this. On our way here, we have not seen any survivor. We were looking for you so I made sure that we did not miss anything back at the village. Right now I could sense a large group of people is right near the entrance of the village. Must be some kind of adventurer group so we cannot risk going back there now." Mephisto explained to little Alice.


    At first Alice refused but gave up in the end. She quietly followed behind Naberius who held her brother on his arms. Everyone headed back to the portal Amelia used to come here.


    The long night finally came to and end, opening a new dawn and a new world.


    * * *



    A man was running inside the forest near Caine village. He has witnessed the events that took place here. The demons. The celestials. The mysterious boy.


    "What kind of monsters were they? I have to report back to Father Terrick." Javis the mage thought out loud.


    He was the only survivor of that battlefield. But he knew there were other squads in charge of the siege of that village. Now that the monsters were gone, he could just run there and this terrible night would be over. But he was stopped half way.


    "My, my. It's bad to peek at people you know. Although I could not say the same to myself." A mysterious voice rang inside the forest.


    "Who are you? Show yourself!" Javis yelled at every direction. Could one of the demon has discovered him? He started to sweat like crazy.


    "I was curious when I first heard of members of the Church collaborating with the Archduke to attack some villages at the borders. But now I have found something much, much more interesting. Who would have thought a new demon lord would rise at this forsaken place?" the voice disclosed to Javis.


    "What? Then that boy is the new demon lord?" Now that Javis calmed himself, he remembered that the boy used strange abilities, none he has ever seen or even heard of.


    "Surely you must have realized it by now. Else why would the demons even bother to come here? It's too risky, even for someone powerful like them. They have remained hidden for the last ten years. Why come out now? Because something or someone even more important than their safety is here. And that could only mean the demon lord. Even the celestials were involved." the feminine voice analyzed the facts to Javis.


    "Yes of course. How could I miss this? But you still did not answer my question. Who are you?" asked Javis loudly.


    "I am but a simple mercenary." answered the voice.


    "Mercenary? Then if you could help me out of this forest, I will make sure that you will be rich for the rest of your life. Could you imagine what people would say if they know that we are the one who discovered the demon lord? I might even be hailed as a hero." Javis imagined all kind of richess and glory he would receive from the royal family if he told them this information. Even Father Terrick would have to acknowledge his abilities now.


    But all he got back was a sinister laugh. From the tree, a woman jumped down. She wore a curious set of cloth: a leather attire in black with a long coat covering her legs, a tricorn hat and two swords, each on each side of her garb. The woman herself was a beauty: pale skin with white hair. Her golden eyes and crimson lips could only add to her charm. Yet the woman emitted a dangerous feeling.


    "Oh but it would trouble me if you go around babbling about the new demon lord. They would just want to hunt him down. He is still weak now so he needs some more time to grow.", the woman said as she gave a gentle yet creeping smile.


    Now Javis knew. This woman was dangerous. But before he could even retaliate, the woman was already right in front of him. In an instant she raised her arm and touched Javis' face gently with her slender hand.


    For a second, the mage was mesmerised by her beauty. And it was the last thing he ever saw.


    Blood started coming out of his nose. His eyes turned red as they began to bleed. The red liquid even surged out from his mouth. Javis could sense his blood boiling inside him. He could not move his body to resist. All he could do was keeping his mouth open.


    By now he recognise this woman. He has heard of her. Many things were said about her. But no matter the source, they all agreed on one thing: "Don't let her touch you!"



    "Yo..u...are... Blo...ody...Ma...ry", the poor mage tried to say his last sentence.


    "Shhhh. Don't resist! It would be over soon!" She maintained her gentle smile. Even though she was killing a man with a single touch.


    She moved her hand to close Javis' mouth. The mage started chocking on his own blood. A few minutes after, the woman released her grasp and Javis fell down, dead, drown by his own blood.


    She took out a white handkerchief to wipe out the blood on her hand. She called out "Scarlet". Then a shadowy figure appeared behind the woman.


    "Yes, Lady Maria!" the figure kneeled before the woman.


    "Find the rest of the soldiers at the village! Kill every single one! Leave no witnesses! Make sure no one who knows about the existence of the boy leaves this place alive. Be quick as the group from the Guild is near!"


    "What if there are any survivors from the villages, milady?" the figure asked.


    "Then make it as quickly and painless as possible!", with no hesitation, the woman answered coldly.


    "It will be done, milady!", the figure replied before disappearing into thin air.


    Now all alone, she placed the handkerchief, now bloodied, on Javis, covering his face. "Good bye Javis!" she smiled to the dead mage lying on the ground.


    She stood up and walked toward the forest's exit. Inside her head, she thought about the boy she saw today.


    "Grow, my little demon lord! Grow and I will see you again!"
     
  9. necrophedius

    necrophedius Member

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    Chapter 7: Revelation



    Empty. Dark. That was what this place was. A little boy was lying alone in the middle of such a place. He curled up in a fetal position, with his hands cuddling his legs. He did not feel cold but in his mind he was craving for a source of warmth. Not just any but from his mother.


    It was to be expected. It did not matter if he was more matured than kids at his age. In the end, Alastor was still a child who was never separated from his mother.


    Nonetheless it was too late. He already lost her. He wondered in his mind if he has taken her for granted. If he could only more time with her. He remembered her soup. How horrible it tasted. How funky it smelled. How ghastly it looked. But most of all how his mother struggled to make them for him and how she smiled at him. Nevertheless, memories stayed as memories, echoes of the past.


    He felt guilty. He wondered if there was something else he could do to prevent this. Perhaps if he managed to stop Alice from coming out of the house during that time, Morgan would not be injured and they could have gotten away. Or maybe if he has mastered his power from the beginning, things might have gone differently.


    Tears poured from his eyes. The sadness was consuming him. The guilt was eating him. "If only I have died..."


    SLAP. His cheek was hit by something. It came from an elven woman in her thirties in appearance. Her dark hair had an asymmetric hairstyle with one side longer than the other. Wearing a purple dress, she looked down on Alastor with anger.


    "Don't you dare say that!" It was Asmodeus. Normally she was a shadow but now she just looked like a normal person, as if she has been washed off the darkness that usually covered her.


    Alastor swiped his tears and tried to regain his composure.


    "So you have your colors back. What do you want with me? Was I too weak for your expectations?" Alastor said with sarcasm.


    "You stupid!" Asmodeus lifted her hand again. But her arm was stopped by another bulky man. It was Belz. A large, almost chunky, beastman. His body was covered with a coat of brown fur, wearing a heavy armor.


    "Wait wait! Didn't you say you want to conform him? Why are you hitting him like that for?" he tried to calm Asmodeus down.


    "Let me go! As his sister I have to educate him."


    "Shut up!" Alastor said in a small voice then he yelled out "SHUT UP! What do you even know about me? Don't you call yourself my sister! Because you are NOT!"


    Asmodeus was blown away. She could not utter a single word. Despite being on the verge of crying out but she tried hard to hold her tears.


    Meanwhile, Beelzebub stood in the middle of them. "Alastor, you did not mean that! Asmodeus, he is still young! Let it go!" Belz desperately tried to calm both side. But it did not seem to work.


    "Get away from me!" Alastor ran towards the darkness, leaving a panicked Belz and a somber Asmodeus behind.


    A shadow approached them. He looked at the running Alastor then turned to Asmodeus. "Should you let him run away like that?"


    "He doesn't want to see me. What do you want me to do?" Asmodeus hesitantly replied.


    "No no I don't mean that. It's just... isn't he running toward that?" The shadow calmly spoke.


    "What do you mean tha.... OH NO!" Asmodeus and Belz realized at the same time. The Abyss seemed like an endless surface but it actually had different levels. And at the lowest level, there was something else. Something the shadows usually avoided. And the only way to go there was to go in the direction Alastor was running toward.


    "That guy is over there!!! That creepy guy!" Belz screamed. He once went there by curiosity a few years ago, only to running for his life without even looking back. What could scare even the demon lord?


    "Shit! Let's go after him!" Asmodeus rushed with Belz reluctantly followed behind.


    The shadow was left alone. He scratched his head and then lied down on the ground. "What does it even matter anyway? At worst we find another one."


    Meanwhile Alastor just kept running toward nothing. At first he thought he managed to lose Asmodeus but then he could hear her shouting his name from behind. So he kept running. And he fell.


    It was too dark to see but there was a cliff and Alastor did not see it. "Is it how I die?" he thought out loud. As he fell into this seemingly bottomless cliff. He turned up and saw Asmodeus screaming his name. He muttered gently as he fell "I am sorry!".


    Accepting his fate, he closed his eyes and let himself drop down. After what felt like an eternity he finally hit the bottom. The boy lied paralyzed, but surprisingly he was still breathing nor did he suffer any injuries, aside from the disorientation and a massive headache.


    Then he heard a combination of sounds: footsteps with clacking armor, followed by a sound of something heavy being dragged on the ground. But his limbs felt sluggish. His head, torpid. He could not move at all. The creeping noise just went louder and louder. Suddenly it stopped.


    Alastor could see an armor legging in front of him. He felt distressed because of the creepy heavy breathing he heard. And that was the last thing he remembered before falling unconscious.


    * * *




    Alastor's POV



    I opened my eyes. My head still hurt like hell. But I immediately forgot about the pain when I saw what was in front of me. A giant flame, looking like a bonfire, was blazing in this middle of the Abyss. I thought this place was empty.


    "Isn't it wonderful ?" a grave inhuman voice spoke to me. His words echoed in this place.


    Before I realized it, I have completely forgotten about the person in front of me. It was difficult to ascertain if it was really a male or a female from the look alone. But judging from the voice, I assumed it was male. A slender and tall body, wearing a fine white armor with a dark blue cape. The armor seemed to have seen better days. There were some tiny cracks and it has lost its gleaming. You could say that the armor now had a mixture of black and white color as some parts seemed almost burned. The cape itself was worn out and a bit soiled. The person wore a helmet with a slim blue plume attached to it.


    There was a greatsword behind the knight, impaled to the ground. At least twice my height in length. Although it was showing signs of rust, I felt this sword could easily cut me in two.


    I tried to look at the person's face but was startled. There was nothing inside the helmet. Rather I could only see darkness inside as if the person had no face. It reminded a bit of the shadows I saw.


    He was staring at the flame. I decided to talk to this enigmatic knight.


    "Who are you?"


    "...No one" the knight paused then replied. He kept looking at the fire.


    "Did you save me from that fall?" I asked again.


    "....." But I did not receive any replies.


    "What are you doing here?"


    "Watching over the flame. The flame must go on!" Another cryptic answer


    "Where is this place?"


    "...Core!" The knight answered but I did not understand.


    I kept asking questions but he remained silent the whole time. He did not seem like a talkative type so I did not press anymore.


    We stayed quiet for a while. Then my memories started come back to me. About what happened before.


    Empty, perhaps that was what described me best right now.


    I wanted to let my anger rage. I wanted to trample everything around me. At the same time I wanted to forget about this sadness I felt.


    Now that I thought about it, it was the first time I lost someone close to me. Those who have not lost anyone cannot comprehend the depth of my despair.


    I could feel my heart aching, seeking for revenge. I hated the ones who stole mother from me. I hate those who attacked my village. But most of all I hated myself for being powerless to do anything.


    Demon lord's power? What a joke! What use was it for if I could not even protect my loved ones?


    "You... have that look in your eyes!" My thoughts were disrupted. The knight finally spoke something.


    "What do you mean? What look?" I asked him.


    "Despair....Rage....Crave for power! A warrior look!" the knight spoke with his eerie voice.


    I was surprised that this stranger whom I met for the first time could see right through me. He definitely was not just some wandering shadow like the others. He seemed perceptive and very powerful judging from his sword.


    Then for unknown reasons I decided to tell my story to the knight. I told him everything. Since the very beginning. The years I spent in Caine village. Morgan, Gazel, Alice. Then the attack. How I lost mother. Everything.


    There were times a few tears dropped from my eye but I did not stop. I did not even know him and now I was telling him the story of my life. How strange.


    For the whole time, the knight kept quiet. He listened to my tales without asking a single question. He just listened.


    I kept talking for how long I did not now. Until I finished telling him everything. I remained silent for a while.


    I felt suddenly much more lighter. As if a great burden has been lifted off me.


    "Do you know what to do now?" the knight asked me.


    "Thank you for listening to my tale! I think I get it now!" I smiled at him.


    Just now I became aware of what was behind me the whole time. I did not notice when I talked to the knight but there was a colossal door behind me. The gate seemed ancient. On it was imprinted the image of a great tree divided into six branches. Each branch leaded to a circle, each had a character inside. However it was in a strange language I could not read at all. So I decided to ignore it for now.


    Perhaps it was time for me to go back. I could not stand here doing nothing for the rest of my life. Hiding here would not solve anything.


    I opened the door and went out. I recognized this place. This seemed like where I fell down from the cliff. I looked back at the door. From here I could still see the knight and the bonfire but if I tried to go around it, there was nothing on the other side. It seemed that the only way to go to the flame was by passing this door.


    I then heard the sound of the door closing. I rushed back at the entrance, only to see that gate has already been closed. No matter how I tried to open it, it would not budge at all. Seemed like I could not see him again, for now.


    BAM. Something fell down behind me. I turned back and realised it was Asmodeus. Once she saw me, she rushed toward me. I thought I would receive a slap for what I said to her. I apologized immediately but all she did was asking if I was hurt and checked my body for injuries.


    I chuckled at her actions. The face she made when she panicked was too cute for me to stop her. She was quite embarrassed about it and told me to stop laughing. A few moment later, Belz jumped down too. He was a bit scarred to jump at first as the first time he did, the knight chased him away. I asked if Belz knew anything about him but he did not know anything.


    We returned back to the surface with Asmodeus holding me. Oddly it only took a few minutes to get back. I should wake up and check on Alice. I did not think the demons we met were evil but Alice must have been so confused after last night.


    After saying goodbye to Asmodeus and Belz, I realized that now I could "wake up" whenever I want from this place. This should prove useful.


    As for the mysterious knight, I should come back seeing him when I got the chance. He did not even tell me his name.


    * * *



    Alastor woke up in an extravagant room. The place was decorated with golden ornaments. The floor, covered with expensive looking red carpet. The sunlight came in the room through a big window embroidered with long and fancy curtains.


    He looked on the spacious bed he lied on, there was Alice sleeping next to him. Her crimson hair brightened under the sunlight. She showed such a peaceful expression on her face as if nothing has happened yesterday.


    'Please let things stay like this' Alastor wished in his mind.


    Then he felt someone was holding his hand the whole time. But no it was not Alice's. Then he looked down on his hand. A white haired girl was staring at him. Although her hands were not human, it emitted a certain warmth just like one.


    "Hum... Good morning, Stella" Alastor said to the doll.


    "Are you ok? Does it hurt anywhere?" she asked slowly. Despite the fact she did not show any expression, Alastor could sense her worries about him.


    "I am fine. Where are we?" the boy replied.


    "We are in the demon lord's castle on Ragna continent.You fell unconscious after what happened yesterday so we decided to bring you back here" answered Stella.


    "Wait what about Gazel? What about grandpa?"


    Stella explained their decision to leave. Alastor understood their reason. It was the logical choice. He knew. But it still haunted his mind. Stella reassured him that they sent a few scouts in the area so if there was any news he would be informed.


    The conversation was interrupted by the sound of opening door. A skeleton in robe walked in.


    "Ah you finally awake. I am sure thing are very confusing for you right now and I understand that you have many questions for us. But for now take your time and prepare. Stella can you bring him to the parlor when he is ready?" with that the skeleton leaved.


    Alastor tried to get out of the bed silently, avoiding waking up Alice. Sure she was older than him but much more innocent. He did not want to make things complicated for her so it was best to leave her here and tell her when the time was right.


    Stella has already prepared an attire for him on her hands. She insisted on helping her change. Alastor resisted at first but finally gave up.


    Once done, Stella leaded him out of them room. In his way to the parlor, Alastor passed through a number of halls. Being raised as a commoner, Alastor was left speechless seeing all these fancy decorations. But alas he wanted to focus on the main thing and the only one who seemed to have the answers were these demons.


    Upon entering the room, Alastor recognized the lich from earlier.


    "Ah young Alastor! You have come. The others have some matters to discuss first so they will arrive later. As for me I am Noroeth, a lich. Please take a sit!", Noroeth presented himself.


    Alastor has heard of these undeads before but it was his first time seeing one. Powerful undead magic caster could be were created by necromancers to do their bidding.


    " Never mind the formality. Can you now tell me what is going on? Who are my parents? Am I really a demon?" Alastor directly jumped at the subject.


    "One question at a time young one." The lich sighed before resuming. Honestly speaking, he did not know to approach the subject. He thought he was prepared for this moment but now there were still doubts in his mind. Nonetheless, he continued.


    "Let's just start with the beginning. What do you know about the demon invasion ten years ago?" Noroeth asked the boy.


    "All I know is that ten years ago the demon lord Asgore declared war on the world. All the Prime races joined together and formed a hero party to kill the demon lord. That's just about it." Alastor claimed.


    "It was actually eleven years ago. And the truth is there was not any war declaration. What Asgore sent to all kingdoms was not a war declaration but a declaration of independence. He wanted to establish a country for demons.


    As you know the continent of Ragna has been the refuge of demons for centuries. But in fact it did not belong to any country. So adventurers could come and go as they please. Demons subjugation were not uncommon. Slavers and criminal organisations built their hideouts here since there was no law enforcement.


    In short it was a heaven for the lawless. That is until demon lord Asgore became king. He managed to retake control of the continent and exiled all the others races. But he envisioned more than that. He did not want us to be secluded on this continent forever. He wanted for demons to be recognized as a race of this world. So he sent those declaration to each kingdom. Needless to say, this did not please the leaders of every race.


    So the leaders claimed that Asgore has declared war. So they picked out their best fighters and sent them to kill Asgore. Of course Asgore expected this. He knew that peace would not come so easily. He thought if he could push back every assassination attempt, eventually they would give up." Noroeth stopped. He glanced at Alastor.


    "Do you understand what I am saying? You should have realised who you are by now."


    "Am I Asgore' son? is that what you are implicating?" this thought did cross Alastor's mind a few times. He knew he was a demon based on what the celestial Mikael said. If he was important enough for the demon royal guards to come fetch him, he must have been someone important enough for them to risk this. Not to mention the mysterious powers he had. "


    "Yes!" Noroeth replied.


    "Then who is my mother? Is she also a demon?" Alastor asked brashly.


    "About that.... let me continue. As I have said before. Asgore managed to repel all his assailants without even killing one. After a few month of failure, the leaders were desperate. So they finally sent their ultimate weapon: the heroes. Each race chose their strongest and formed the hero's party. But...." Noroeth paused. Some old memories came back to his mind, making him silent for a while. Then he continued. "There was something else no one at that time expected. Not even the Gods.


    I think it would be better to show you directly. Come!" Noroeth stood up and went to the door. Alastor and Stella followed behind.


    They walked inside the castle until they reached a dead end.


    "Although it is custom for demons to bury the members of the royal family in the royal tomb, Asgore was an exception. After his death, the demons built a hidden room to serve as his final resting place instead of putting him together with the previous demon lords." Noroeth explained.


    "Why is Asgo... I mean my father an exception?" Alastor inquired. He found this whole deal of secrecy very suspicious. Although Noroeth did tell him many things, he did not mention how Asgore was killed. Not to mention he just discovered that there were special circumstances behind Asgore's death.


    "You will see."


    Noroeth pushed his hand on the wall and murmured a few words. The wall revealed to be only an illusion that revealed the path only to those who knew the password.


    The trio entered the room. Inside the place was only lighted with candles. Then Alastor noticed something else. There were two stone coffins on each side of the room. A stone monolith stood in the middle of the room. Alastor approached and read the inscription on the monolith.


    "Here we commemorate King Asgore's companions for their honorable acts"


    Two names were under it.


    "Izago, King of the mountain

    Theoron, the Sage

    May you all find peace in the next world"


    Alastor was bewildered. How could the name of the heroes be here, inside the demon lord's tomb? And why was one of them be crossed out.


    Noroeth remained silent. Before Alastor could even speak, he told him to go to the next room.


    The second room was a bit different. There were many more candles floating on the air. Another two coffins lied at the end of the room but this time they lied next to each other. There was another stone monolith in the middle of the place. There were some writings on that.


    As if it was calling to him, Alastor walked toward the stone and read the inscription on it.


    "In memory of our King Asgore and his beloved ....." The next word Alastor could not read out loud. He fell onto his knees. He looked again at the stone in disbelief. Then he finally read the last word "Lakyus".


    "Yes. Ten years ago, demon lord Asgore met the hero Lakyus and they felt in love with each other. They had a child. That child is you, Alastor." Noroeth slowly spoke.
     
  10. necrophedius

    necrophedius Member

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    Chapter 8: Ten years ago



    "What is the nature of a Soul?



    The Church of Light believes that the Soul is the source of life. According to the old scriptures of the Church, when God created the Primes, he only created an empty vessel of flesh. Not a living being. But then God created the First Flame and gave each one of us a part of it, our Soul. The Soul gives us our intelligence, our conscience. It makes us for who we are. When a person died, the Soul returned to the Flame before being reincarnated into another body. This is the Cycle of Reincarnation as we know today.



    Many mages believed that the Soul can be simplified as a mass of mana, much more condense than the mana we are used to in nature. Their proof is that using magic or tools that absorbs mana, such as a mana stone, one could manage to store a Soul inside. This led to the creation of two new branches of magic as we know today: Soul magic and Necromancy.



    Soul magic aims to manipulate the flow of pure mana, not contaminated with any of the elements, therefore able to inflict damage to their opponent while ignoring all kind of defense. This proves to be very useful against opponent with strong magic defense such as dragons.



    Necromancy however manipulates the Soul itself of the living. When a person dies, the Soul leaves the body and sometimes lingers for a time on Earth before going back to the Flame. By retrieving these lost Souls, necromancers are able to put them in a new body and manipulate them to their will. These people are known as undead. While most undeads lost their conscience due to the mediocre way of practice of the necromancer (low quality of mana stone to store the soul, inexperienced necromancer), there are cases of some powerful souls who are able to retain their conscience and a part of their formal power.



    In my opinion, there are both truth and flaws in these theories. If the Soul is what makes us intelligent, then what keeps us alive? Necromancy has once been mistakenly as resurrection magic. But the undeads who come back no longer possess the power they use to have. Therefore this is not a complete resurrection. Many have tried to preserve the body of the deads and even in perfect condition, what comes back is still not the same as before.



    Thus I concluded that there must be a third factor aside the Soul and the flesh that make us who we are as a complete set. I will call this factor Essence. To me, the Essence is what keep us alive. It's the life energy that was given and flow inside our body since birth. Much like mana, this energy is inside every living being, including the monsters. But while we could increase our mana pool with intensive training, this energy will stay the same amount, or rather will only decline as we grow older. When nothing is left, our bodies fail and we die as a consequence of this.



    I believe that if we manage to manipulate this energy, a true resurrection magic will no longer be just a dream. We may one day surpass the immortal celestial and dragon.



    As a final note of this research, I have personally tested necromancy on a few demons. I observed that necromancy worked on demons just like any races of the Primes. Does it mean that the demons too have a soul? If yes then are we really that different from each other?"


    * * *




    Alastor's POV


    "What is the meaning of this? Why are the heroes buried here? Why is my mother Lakyus?" I yelled at Noroeth. Why would the hero and the demon lord have a child together?


    "About that even I don't understand. First she wanted to become the hero to defeat the demon lord. The moment she met him, she told me that she wanted to marry him. What was I supposed to do? Can you imagine what went through my mind at that time? I thought she was under a mind control spell but no, she was too powerful for that sort of spell to work on her. I even personally check myself but there was nothing." Noroeth started to gush out angrily.


    I did not know an undead could be so.... lively. He just seemed like an old father grunting about his daughter being married away. But wait just a minute.... why did he sound like he know Lakyus, or should I say my real mother, very well? Shouldn't he know Asgore better?


    "You sound like you know my mother pretty well." I expressed my concern.


    "Of course I did. I was her god damn teacher" the lich continued his grunting.


    "Wait what? How can a lich be a teacher of the hero?"


    "I was not always a lich you know. I used to be known by another name: Theoron."


    'Theoron....Theoron.... Isn't that the Sage? One of the Six heroes?' I repeated inside my head.


    "Are you THE Theoron?" I howled at him.


    "Ha ha ha! It seems my reputation has gotten the better of me. Yes I am Theoron the Sage, One of the Six heroes. But now I have another name and that's Noroeth." Noroeth laughed and answered proudly.


    "How did you end up like this?" I continued with the question.


    Suddenly his expression went dimmer.


    "Like the story said, I died ten years ago. But that's not the problem. The problem is I don't know who killed me. Ten years ago, we were surprised when we met the demon lord. We expected to meet a ferocious beast but he seemed just like a decent guy. Although we did try to kill him the moment we saw him, most of us ended up blown away. But only your mother, Hero Lakyus, was a match for him.


    They fought for three days consecutively before finally ended in a tie. I think it was during that time they saw something in each other. Lakyus insisted that we were not to interfere. It kept repeating itself for the next few weeks. I thought perhaps the demon lord was just toying with her since he clearly did not use his maximum power. But then one day she showed up with Asgore, hands in hands, and told me that they were going to get married. And also she was expecting a child.


    We did not know what to do. Lakyus could not fight anymore and we were powerless against him. So when he invited us to his castle, despite our suspicion, we accept anyway. We thought perhaps there was something there we could use against him. Or at worst learn more intelligence. If he really wanted to kill us, he could do that easily already.


    At first I did not trust him. But when he told me about his plans, what his vision was for the demons and the world, I just could not help but kept listening. I have lived for more than three centuries and I am proud of my wisdom. But at that moment I began to doubt myself. Could it be that my prejudices against the demons were wrong ? If that is the case then how could I consider myself a Sage when I could not even see what was right in front of me for three hundred years.


    With time passed, the others shared my opinion and so we decided that upon our return we would spread the demon lord's message to the rest of the world. None of our wanted war. No longer should we continue this endless cycle of hatred and bloodshed. Could you imagine it? Peace between demon and the rest of the world.


    Plus we were happy that you would be the first living proof that showed that demon and others could live together.


    But alas our dreams were shattered. The day you were born, I was outside the castle. Then I saw great light from inside. That was the last thing I remembered before I died." Noroeth paused before resuming.


    "When I woke up again, I was in this body. Remember the little girl you saw carrying a slime? That is the witch Amelia. She specialized in necromancy and so a few months after I died, she managed to recover my soul and put it inside my old body, which became like you see right now.


    The demons royal guards were not in the castle that day because they were on a mission. When they came back, everyone inside the castle was already dead, including Asgore and Lakyus but you were missing.


    As for the others, Celdora and Arshe were accompanying Mephisto and the royal guards so they were not at the castle. Old Izago passed away. He was found outside your mother's chamber. It seemed like he tried to defend against the assailants to protect her but....At that time, aside from me who was just outside the castle, Ingrid was staying with Lakyus and Asgore, together with a certain servant who accompanied us on our journey."


    "...was that servant my mother, Morgan?" While I did understand the situation, there was not any explanation on how I got out of the castle. Or how Morgan was connected to the events. But remembering what Mikael said, it must mean that she was at this castle ten years ago.


    "Yes. The others suspected Morgan because they did not find her body. And since you were also missing so we thought perhaps she kidnapped you. For what reason we don't know. But to be honest I could not believe that she could cause all this by herself, or even with help. We are talking about both the demon lord and the hero party here, the strongest of the world and yet we were wiped out without a single trace.


    Sigh...There is just too much things unknown to us. But enough of this. What matters is now you are here with us."


    Noroeth halted his speech and patted my head. For a moment I mistook him for Gazel. It reminded me of how Gazel used to pat me. Except Noroeth's hand was just bone.The gentle pat like every time he came home or when he finished reading us a tale of his adventure. It almost brought to tears but I managed to hold up.


    "I think that's enough for today. Let's go back to the parlor. The others must be waiting." Noroeth walked out of the mausoleum.


    I thought I would be more emotional about this whole affair.But what I felt at this moment could not be described as anger nor sadness. How strange.


    My real parents were murdered and yet I could not feel a single bit of resentment. Compared to when Morgan died, this was nothing. Was it because I was raised by Morgan instead of them? For some reasons I could not feel any love being at this place. Simply empty.


    I looked back at the two coffins one more time before leaving the room. We went back to the parlor. Upon entering the room, I greeted the four persons inside. They were the demons from last night.


    After introducing themselves to me, I asked them what would happen from now on. The man named Mephisto started speaking.


    "Noroeth must have told you about your parents and the circumstances behind your birth. Then I shall not mince words any further. What we want is for you to become the new king of Ragna. It is only natural since you are the only son of late king Asgore.


    After the Asgore's death the demons were divided into numerous factions. Some sought revenge, others took the opportunity to increase their influence while the rest stayed hidden. But in the end we all want the same thing: to drive the Prime races out of our territory and make them pay for what they did to our people.


    Lord Alastor, you are the legitimate heir to the throne. In others words, if you are to be crowned, it would make your authority unquestionable and we can unite our people once more."


    "I am a bit uncomfortable with adults calling Lord that? Could you drop it? As for what you just said, I highly doubt that it would be easy. Who would want to be led around by a ten years old? And they could claim that you use a substitution only to have a puppet as the king. " I asked Mephisto.


    "Very perceptive, lord Alastor! That's why we decided that you will study under us to increase your power. What better proof than showing that you are much superior than them? So what do you say milord?" Mephisto spoke with a smile.


    If you thought about it, this situation could only be convenient for me. While I did not hold much affection for my real parents, I wanted to know who was behind their death. If I uncovered that, perhaps I could learn more about Morgan. Finally I could use the demon intelligence to search for who attacked our village. But there was something that bothered me in everything he said. I had to make my standing.


    "While the offer is certainly interesting, I would have to refuse." I gave my answer to the now dazed demons.


    "What ? Why?"


    Naberius and Azurus uttered in confusion. Only Amelia and Mephisto kept their calm and smiled. It seemed like I passed their test.


    "May I ask why?" Mephisto put his tea cup down on the table.


    "Many reasons. First, I am far too inexperienced as a leader to be a king. Even if you say that you will be teaching me about ruling, it means that right now I am not ready.


    Secondly, I lack power and therefore I don't think the me now deserve to be even thinking about becoming a king.


    Lastly you have been talking like my future have already been decided. I don't like people deciding my fate, not now, not ever again. So unless I want to be king, I will not be one. I want to take responsibility for the decisions I take upon myself, and not because I am influenced by someone else.


    Therefore to answer your question, no"


    The room stayed silent for a while. Everyone was stunned by the things I said. They did not expect a ten years old to say no in this kind of situation. Then the silence was broken by a loud laugh.


    "Ha ha ha ha! Well said! To be honest I thought you were a bit too naive, without a doubt because of your age. But now I see how wrong I was. You are much sharper than you look. Brilliant!" Mephisto chuckled.


    "I will take that as a compliment. To continue our discussion, would you care to hear about my proposal?"


    My proposal was for Mephisto to give me three years before I decided to become king or not. Until that time, I would study under the four demon royal guards to gain experience and to increase my power. The conditions were of course the safety of Alice and my access to any intelligence the demon had. In the end Mephisto accepted my proposal.




    With that, I decided to retreat back to my quarter to check on Alice. She might be worried if she did not find me when she woke up. I probably should not mention anything I learnt today to Alice. And how should I talk to her about Morgan...


    Naturally Stella quietly followed me from behind. I did ask her to stay but she insisted to go with me.


    I opened the door, still wondering what would be the right words for this kind of situation. Alice was sitting on the bed, peering at the window.


    "Hi sis...Um.. How do you feel?" I spoke haltingly.


    "Hi brother! You don't have to be awkward about it. I know mom is dead." she replied to me with a smile. Her answer completely blew me up. I expected her to be crying, sulking but Alice was very mature about this.


    "Are you sure you are okay Alice? You seems a bit strange...." I asked her.


    "I am fine Alastor. I would like to ask you the same thing. I know this has been hard on you but I want you to know that your big sis is here for you. Whatever we will always be together as a family" Alice caught me off guard and hugged me "Of course I mean you too Stella. We are all family now. Come join us!" she smile at me and a surprised Stella.


    In the end we stayed like that for a moment. We did not utter a single word. There was no need to.


    People cannot live on their own. They seek companionship, warmth from another. And they will protect it. No matter the cost. The place we call home.


    That night, I stayed up quite late. Alice was already asleep. I thought I should not but I decided to tell her what Noroeth and the others have told me. Yet she accept everything very easily and she did not ask me any question. I thought it was weird for her to change her personality that abruptly. I feared that Morgan's death has broken something inside Alice. But at that time perhaps I should have noticed the signs.


    I nearly completely forgot about Stella...again. The whole time she did not make even a single sound. She just sit next to the bed. Her blue eyes and white hair, under the moonlight, reminded me the first time I saw her. My heart almost skipped a beat thinking about that. How embarrassing.


    "Stella you still did not tell me why I am your master. Noroeth told me that you have only recently been activated so how did you even know about me?" I asked her in a low voice.


    "I am only doing what the voice in my head is telling to. When I awake, I heard a voice telling me to protect you from all harm. To me it's enough proof that you are my master." Stella replied.


    "Do you mean the voice in your heart? Your conscience?" I knew Stella was a doll, artificial construct created to follow their master's orders. But a doll with a conscience and self aware.... I did not think it was possible. The person who created Stella must be a genius. I would love to speak to him but I heard he was already dead shortly after making Stella.


    "I don't know. Perhaps... I apologize Alastor." Stella mumbled.


    "It's okay. Don't worry about it" I smiled at her.


    Anyway I thought hard about what Noroeth has told me. I wanted to know the truth behind my parents' death. While they did not raise me themselves, it was not their choice and they probably tried to protect me till the very end. I supposed that was the least I could do to thank them for bringing me in this world. I believed that I would also discover Morgan's past this way.


    Then I spoke.


    "Stella, I feel right now as if the whole world is against us. I am a demon. Some will try to kill me. Others will try to use me for their own ambition...."


    "I will kill all those who want to harm you." Stella said softly.


    "Innocents will die..."


    "As long as you live."


    "Don't you want to know what my goal is ?"


    "Whatever your goal is, I will stand by your side."


    "What if I die before I could reach my goal..."


    "That won't happen"


    "We don't know what the future holds Stella. I could very well die tomorrow or in ten years."


    "Then I will make sure the world won't have a future."
     
  11. necrophedius

    necrophedius Member

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    Chapter 9: Lakyus



    The next morning, Alastor was on his way to the studies to see Mephisto.


    Following their discussion the previous day, Mephisto would teach him about politics between all kingdoms, Noroeth on the basics of magic and theories, Naberius on close combat and survival skills, Amelia on magic battle. As for Azurus, the slime told him that Alastor was not ready yet for his lessons yet so he needed to become stronger to do so. Looking at the slime, Alastor had some doubts as Azurus seemed to never take things seriously. Perhaps it would be better for Alastor to focus on the others for now.




    * * *




    Alastor's POV


    "So Alastor, tell me all you know about Astora." Mephisto asked me.


    "The world of Astora is divided three main continents: Ragna, Oros and Mara.


    In the North is Ragna. Ragna is where the demons have retreated back a few centuries ago after the war. Since then, other races have multiples times try to eradicate all demons completely but there have not been any successful attempts because of the harsh climate and terrains which proved to be very difficult to pass by.


    Oros is the dragon continent to the West. Compared to Ragna, it is slightly smaller but the creatures who live there are extremely powerful. That is not to take in account the roaming dragons. While dragons are solitary creatures, they are rules by the dragon council in a similar manner to the other nations.


    Mara is the biggest continent as it is ten times bigger than Ragna. Located to the south of Ragna. It's where all the rest of the Primes races live." I bragged about my knowledge.


    "Good. What can you tell me about the Prime races"


    "The race with the biggest population is the human. However they are divided into three kingdoms: to the North lies the kingdom of Ceadric. South of Ceadric we have Zagon Empire. The two countries have been in a feud since the last few decades and it is likely possible for a war to break out between the two. The last country, sharing the borders with the other two is the Theocracy of Light, ruled by the Church of Light, under the Pope. Together these three take the northern half of the Mara Continent. Compared to others races, human may lack in physical strength or magic affinity but they have proved to be the most ambitious and many great heros in history were human.


    The second race is the elf, renown for their affinity with magic and nature. Unlike human, there is only one elf kingdom, Malatas. But while they may seem united, the elves are divided into two faction: Solona and Luna.


    The third is the beastman. The beastman doesn't have a country as they are divided in clans and tribes. Most of these tribes are located in the plains and mountains to the east of Malatas.


    The dwarf race is the most unfortunate one. They used to live near the volcanoes to the South east of Mara but after the eruptions of these volcanoes, the dwarf were spread among all others countries or even the dragon continent. Because of this the dwarf no longer has a country for themselves.


    The celestials don't live on any continent. In fact they live in a flying island which never stays at the same place for long. Even though they are small in numbers, they compensate with an exceedingly long life expectancy.


    Finally the dragon. They are known as the strongest race thanks to their natural magic resistance and scales hard as steel. Aside from that, I don't personally know much about them as they are usually solitary and quite secretive."


    As I ended my speech, Mephisto clapped his hands to congratulate me.


    "You already covered the basics. I am glad! This means I can jump to the next part. About the demon race. Now Alastor tell me! In your opinion what is a demon?"


    His question certainly raised my curiosity. Up until now, I have seen many different kinds of demons. Most of them, aside from those who shared monster attributes like Azurus, had a humanoid appearance. They also shared attributes with the Prime races. Naberius for example looked just like a beastman but with three heads, Amelia like a small elf girl. As for Mephisto he just looked like a human except for his claws and wings. Could it be...


    "Is there such a thing as the demon race?" I answered Mephisto with a question. It seemed like I found the right answer judging from the smile he gave me.


    "You seem to have got it. You have seen demons who share appearance with the Prime races. Others with monsters. In fact according to the archives, the demon first appeared when one of the monsters accepted the blood of the Old One, a deity in the demon religion. Many demons are descendants of these monsters. Of course this knowledge is widely spread even among the Church of Light.


    But there was also a second part of this myth. Taking pity on the demon, the Old One put a curse on the Prime races. Anyone from the Prime races who succumbs to the Dark will become a demon. This means that even if all the Primes manage all demons, we would one day come back as long as there is life in this world. This knowledge is of course censored by the Church as it can cause panic in the population.


    So in short, anyone has the potential to become a demon as long as they meet a certain requirement. In the history of demon lords, there were some who were celestial or dragon to begin with. Of course these kind of transformation don't happen every day but there are demons out there who have once been a Prime." Mephisto spoke.


    "Then which one are you?" I asked him.


    "The later. Would you believe me if I tell you that I used to be a priest of the Church? But alas that's a story for another time. Now let's get back to the subject!"


    * * *



    "You sure about this?" Alastor asked Naberius.


    "Trust me on this!" Naberius assured me while patting on my shoulders, making me lose my balance.


    "Here goes nothing!" The next second Alastor understood that he just made the stupidest thing in this life until now.


    Naberius has brought him to a nearby forest. He thought that the boy was too fragile and lacked endurance to begin the close combat lessons. Although Alastor did not wish to become a warrior, he still needed to be able to defend himself against those. Therefore he needed to work on combat instinct, sharpen his senses and survival skills.


    To Naberius, the only way to improve in those areas as quick as possible was to have a taste of death. And so he told the boy to hit the giant boar in front of him.


    "It's waking up. What do I do next?" Alastor started to panic. The boar was huge in size. It had two curved horned from its mouth and spikes on its spine.


    "What do you mean? Run you idiot!" Naberius jumped on a nearby tree while Alastor was being pursuited by the boar.


    "What the hell? I thought you would teach me something." screamed Alastor while running as fast as he can.


    "I am. Just try to survive for one hour without using magic! That's your first lesson. That's how I learnt anyway." Naberius grinned.


    "You bastard!"


    Alastor wanted to use the tree terrains to avoid the boar. But none of that matter for the boar, it just charged toward him and crushed everything on its way.


    Alastor could have used <Absolute authority> on the boar or even <Devour> to weaken it. But he decided not to. Using those powers could be convenient but solely rely on them was not a good idea for Alastor. Just like the night of the attack, those powers turned out to be useless against powerful opponent or at least Alastor did not have the power or experience to use them wisely. Therefore training on survival skills should be the top priority until he became capable enough.


    After one hour, Naberius found a paralyzed Alastor lying on the ground. As he lifted his head, the boar charged toward him.


    "Well done, kid! You passed. I will take care of the rest!" Naberius raised his axe as he spoke.

    ....

    ....

    ....


    "Isn't that a bit too much?" Noroeth spoke to Naberius, looking at an unconscious Alastor on Naberius' shoulder "How am I supposed to teach him with him like this?"


    After putting Alastor on the bed, Naberius turned to Noroeth.


    "No worry! He is a fighter. He can take it! By the way did you see my axe? I just dropped it outside the room." the beastman said as he checked outside the room but he could not find anything. He went back in and looked around the around.


    "Do you mean the three meters long giant axe?" Noroeth said while looking out at the window.


    "Yes that's the one." Naberius confirmed.


    "The one with a white wolf emblem on the blade?" Noroeth added.


    "Yes that's it. I didn't know that you pay much attention to my axe."


    "The one that little girl is holding?" Noroeth pointed his hand to what he has been observing outside the window.


    "How....?" Naberius ran to the window only to see a sight he could not believe


    What caught his attention since earlier was a red-haired little girl, wearing a white robe in a the garden. Such a harmonious scene if no one took in account that she was holding a giant axe on her small shoulders. It was clear that the axe outsized her greatly but she handled it as if nothing.


    "This is certainly interesting!" Noroeth grinned.


    * * *



    Alastor's POV


    "Alastor, what are the basic elements of magic?", asked Noroeth.


    "There are in total five basics elements: Fire, Water, Wind, Earth, Lightning. Light and Dark are not of this as they are the primitive elements, meaning the basic elements are created from them.


    While Dark magic is often frowned upon because it is usually associated with demons, it is not uncommon to see a practitioner of the Dark element. Aside from the Church of Light, other countries are very open-minded on using the Dark element." I answered.


    "Very good Alastor! To be able to use elemental magic, one must control the mana flow inside him and imbue your element into it.


    This means that you can't use elemental magic you don't have affinity with. That's why mage with multiples elemental affinities are very well regarded, often working for the royal family.


    As for you, we have used magic stones to determine your elemental affinities and I conclude that you have no elemental affinities at all. But don't take this as a bad news. In fact you might just be lucky.


    Just because you have no affinity with any of the element, it does not mean that you can't use magic. In fact thanks to that, the mana in your body remains pure, allowing you access to certain magics that can only be used if the individual has no affinity such as Soul Magic.


    At first you might think that no affinity is bad but I can assure that Soul Magic is so powerful since it can bypass all magic defense. However these individuals are incredible rare so not many even know about this magic.


    There are also other types of magic who don't rely on the elements like blood magic, necromancy but these are quite uncommon.


    Now while I can't use Soul magic, I could still help you with the knowledge about magic. You may not be able to use elemental magic but you can learn about their weakness and exploit them against your opponent. Remember: knowledge is power!"


    As he paused, Noroeth saw that it has been three hours since the start of the lesson. He decided to end the lesson as it has been a long day for me. The old lich started tidy up the old books on the table.


    I still had a few minutes before going to Amelia for the next lessons. Perhaps I should use this time to ask him about my mother Lakyus. I have been curious for a while. She was, at the end, my real mother after all. Since Noroeth was her teacher, perhaps he could tell me a few things about her.


    "Theoron, can you tell me about my mother?" I asked him.


    "I have not been called by that name for a long time...." he put down the books and took a sit. "What do you wish to know?"


    "Everything please. I want to know as much as I can about her. She is my mother after all." I said to him.


    At first he sighed and seemed to be reminiscing about the past. Then he spoke.


    "As you known, Lakyus was the elder of the two princesses of the Zagon Empire. When she was chosen as a hero, the people saw her as a goddess on earth, even those from other nations. But like every story there was a darker side not many know of. Lakyus was not exception.


    Lakyus' mother was a commoner. She caught the king's eye when he was on an expedition out of the castle. But because of her background, the king chose to let her live outside of the castle, in an isolated house hidden from the rest of the palace. Later he found out that a child was born and that child had incredible magic potential in Soul magic. A rare gem, once in a thousand years. And that child was Lakyus.


    And so he decided to take Lakyus and her mother back to the castle and intended to make Lakyus the heir to the throne despite numerous protests from the nobility and the court. Of course the queen was not happy about this but she did not have a child yet at that time so she could not openly express her discontent.


    One would have thought that things started to have brighten a bit for little Lakyus but a year later her mother succumbed to illness and died. The king also learnt that because of the tremendous amount of mana flow inside her body, Lakyus would not live past her twenties.


    Disappointed, the king announced a new heir which was Lakyus' young sister Morrigan who was born a few months after Lakyus was taken in the castle.


    But the king did not let his daughter go so easily. Although she won't live long, perhaps her body could be of use for magical research or later to be used as a military weapon or so he thought. So Lakyus was locked away inside a tower for fifteen years, subject to countless inhuman experiments." Noroeth spoke in a sad tone.


    As I listened to the story, I unconsciously clenched my fist in anger. Even if I did not know her personally, to hear something like this about my mother was more than enough to enrage me.


    At that time, I realized that Noroeth had caught on the expression shown on my face. Then he continued.


    "And indeed the king found the opportunity. When the 'so called demon invasion' was announced, he invited me to the castle to train Lakyus. At that time Malatas was in a friendly relationship and we thought that the demons should be a priority concern so I accepted the invitation.


    But I changed my opinion about Zagon and its king when I first met Lakyus. She looked at me with a detached and cold eyes as if I was just like many of the others she saw before. Still she followed my training and instructions meticulously.


    Only a few months of training and she has already surpassed my level. She might had a fragile body but the scale of her magic potential and destruction was not of this world, unlike everything I have ever seen. I was suspicious of this. I only knew her as the hidden daughter of the king but to have this kind of power, I was afraid that Zagon was planning something bad. And so I sent a few spies to know more about Lakyus' origin. But what I found shocked me to my very core.


    It was only at that time I learnt the truth about her, how she suffered, how she endured all this time and how she only had little time left in this world. I tried to bring her out of the castle to see the world. I thought at least it would bring some happiness to this child. But the king refused completely, saying that when the time came, he would send her to kill the demon lord.


    I tried to do something, believe me! But my position did not allow me for careless moves. When you think about it, perhaps it's true that I was just like anybody else in her life. Either a heartless one or a hypocrite.


    Then one day Lakyus came to me, saying that she wanted to go kill the demon lord. I was completely blown away. I did not know for what reason would make her want to do something like this. Why would someone who was abandoned by the world want to save it? But at that time I decided to follow her wish. She only had a few years left and I would do everything I can do answer her wishes.


    At that time, the king was also desperate because none of the assassination proved to work so he agreed pretty easily for Lakyus to go. And so we gathered a party and went to the demon continent.


    As for the rest, you already know it."


    I was deep in my thoughts after hearing the story of my mother. A part of me wanted to go to Zagon and just let my fury freed, destroy everything there. The other part could only weep for her.


    I may be her son but I did not think I would be able to agree saving the world who treated me like I was some lapdog, only to be used when they needed me.


    I did not know what to say so I stood up, thanked Noroeth for his story and went to the door. But as just as I went out of the room, Noroeth talked to me.


    "Alastor I did not manage to protect your mother nor did I do anything to help her when she needed me the most. I consider her like my daughter even though we only knew each other for a few months. That's why this is my promise to you. Whatever happens I will follow your decision."


    I looked at Noroeth who showed a sincere expression. I simply nodded at him as I closed the door and went to see Amelia. There was something on my face. Things were a bit blurry. I guessed there was a bit of dust in the castle.
     
  12. necrophedius

    necrophedius Member

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    Chapter 10: Training



    Alastor's POV


    As soon as I washed my face, I went to where Amelia was. I wondered what her room would be like. I imagined there would be hanging frogs, cauldrons with suspicious substances inside. But things were quite different compared to my expectation.


    Right now I was sitting in a completely pink room filled with girly ornaments and accessories. I guessed it would be normal to see a little girl like Amelia in such a room. But when you knew about Amelia's reputation, being here brought a certain unsettling creepiness in this kind of place .


    Since I had no elemental affinities, Amelia could teach me Soul magic as she was also a practitioner of the art with both necromancy and soul magic. While the first lesson with Amelia would be about some basic spells during battle, it came to Amelia's attention that my body was quite different since she could not sense any mana from me. And so she was stuck in a dead end as she had no idea what I could do.


    Nonetheless, it seemed that no one was aware of the existence of the Abyss and the souls of the demon lords inside it. I guessed it would be better to keep it a secret from everyone. The more information the enemy got on me, the less elements of surprise I got on them. I could not risk talking to someone close only for it to be reach the enemy's ears.


    Later that day, when I talked with Belz in my dream, I realized that the reason I did not have any mana in my body was because I was unconsciously using a small version of <Devour> continuously for the last seven years ever since I met Belz. And because of my inexperience, I ended up absorbing my own mana and things surrounding me.


    But the quantity of mana absorbed was very low and slow so that was why no one detected it. Nonetheless, Belz taught me a few more things about his abilities. First, <Devour> could only absorb incorporeal object such as mana. Any physical object would be disintegrated and converted into mana, such as the Mikael's arm I consumed. Secondly I could now use <Release> to discharge the mana absorbed into another object or myself. Thirdly the ability I used against Mikael and the celestials was called <Black Hole>. Unlike <Devour>, this would obliterate everything in its path, turning all into nothingness. I should be careful to use this.


    As for Asmodeus, I found out that I was lucky during the village attack as there were only common soldiers. Because of my low level of power, <Absolute Authority> would only work on someone much weaker than me or with a very weak mental of mind. But it did not mean not the skill was useless against powerful opponent. While I might not be able to control their whole body, with training I could try to control only one part like removing their sight.


    Asmodeus also recommended me to seek out others demon lords wandering the Abyss. This would increase my arsenal and I could discover some powerful combinations of skills. Still she warned me that not all demon lords would be as welcoming as her and Belz so I must be careful.


    At first I tried to go back to the depths to see the mysterious knight. I felt a bond with him the last time I saw him even though we have only met once. Perhaps he could teach me some of his skills. But the door was shut still. After several attempts, I gave up.


    I decided to see Belphegor as I already knew him.


    "Hi there!" I saluted him.


    ".... What?" he answered with disinterest.


    "Could you give me your power?" I smiled at him widely.


    "...No!" he said abruptly.


    "...."


    "....."


    "No matter how much time you just sit there, the answer is still no. Now let me take my nap!" he grunted at me.


    "......" But I did not react to his answer.


    But it did not move him at all. So I decided to stalk him everyday for one whole month. During the day I trained with the others while I followed him everywhere at night. Even though I could spend days in this place without spending a single second in the outside world, my mind could not take it so I could only stay for a few hours before leaving again.


    Finally after thirty days he caved in.


    "You are persistent..."


    "Should I take it as a compliment?" I asked him.


    "...like a pest" he continued.


    "I guess not"


    I could spend days here and went back to the real world without spending a second. If only I could train here. Unfortunately training has to take place outside in the real world as even if I trained here, there won't be any change in my body.


    "Why do you even want to do this anyway? It does not matter what you do. You will die and there will be another replacing you. In the end nothing will change." he finally stopped and spoke to me.


    "Honestly I don't know if I can change anything. But I know for sure that if I don't do anything nothing will change. And I can make a difference if you help me." I conveyed to him.


    After a short moment of silence he conceded. He raised his hand toward me and I could feel something changing inside me.


    "Asgore said the same thing... Like father like son I guess."


    "What? Do you mean my father? You talked to him? Is he here?"


    The mention of his name made me realized how much of an idiot I was. If Asgore was a demon lord and this place was where demon lords gathered after their death, shouldn't Asgore' soul be here as well?


    "He said the same thing when he tried to 'recruit' me. As for meeting him, no I have not seen him ever since he died. In fact none of the people I know here has seen him."


    How was that possible? If only I could ask Magnus about this but the guy did not show up these days.


    "...Tell me! What do I look like to you?" I asked him. I have always wondered how I looked like from the shadow's point of view.


    "Like all previous demon lords before you. You look like an orb of light." Belphegor said.


    "So it means you don't actually know how he looks like. After he died, he would take his form in the real world and since you don't know how he looks like, it means that it is not that you have not seen him. It's you have not spoken with him. So there is still a chance he is here."




    The next day I went to see Amelia to let her know that my previous mana problem has been solved but also for another reason. I was still a bit bitter knowning that I could only use Soul magic and not any of the elemental magic. If only there was some way to bypass this predicament.


    Also there was something bugging me about what Noroeth told me concerning the events ten years ago.


    "Amelia, why did you only use necromancy on Theoron and not the others who died at that castle?" I asked her. It was weird that only Noroeth came back. If we used necromancy on someone inside the castle like mother or father, we should have known what happened.


    "It's not that I did not try to. It's because I couldn't. In order to use necromancy, you need a soul. Normally when someone dies, their soul lingers for a while at the place they died. But it was not the case ten years ago. There was no soul to be found." Amelia spoke as she put down her tea cup.


    "What ? How is that possible? Then how did you do for Theoron?" I expressed my surprise.


    "Theoron was lucky. He was outside the castle so I think the spell did not fully work on him. It did manage to kill him but his soul was intact. It did take a few months for me to get it back into his body though. As for those inside the castle, whatever that spell was either fully destroyed their soul or trapped them somewhere else.


    But I have never heard of such a spell before, not in this kind of scale. At most I could do something like that for one or two persons but there were hundred of people that day inside the castle."


    If something did erase all the souls of everyone inside the castle, it could explain why Asgore was not in the Abyss. The person behind this must have really thought through this. But this kind of pissed me off.


    Anyway after my daily lessons and training, I went back to the Abyss, this time to look for more demon lords and at the same time asking about Asgore.


    Although many had given him their power, none have seen him since ten years ago. Though my search did not harbour any fruit, I did manage to convince two shadows to give me their power. Or rather Asmodeus convinced them to see me. I did not know how she managed but I dared not to ask.


    The first one was a slime named Devas. From my perspective, it looked just like Azurus but pure black. According to him, his ability <Replica> allowed one to create a clone of himself. The clone however would only have a tenth of the user's original power. As I increased my mana pool, I would be able to create more clones and even change their appearance.


    As for the second one, it was a colossal shadowy creature with two giant wings. Just one look at the creature reminded me of the most powerful race in the world: the dragons.


    "Are you a dragon?" I asked the creature.


    "Indeed I am little one. Now give me your hand." the dragon spoke to me in a dignified and ringing voice.


    As I reached my hand to him, I felt something flowing inside me. So this was a dragon's power. As I lost my consciousness, I heard his voice again.


    "Rejoice as the Great Xenes has given you a portion of his power. Seek the Scion and the stars will follow your commands!"


    I immediatly woke up and found myself in my room again. 'The Scion...' what did he mean by that? Anyway I should test these new powers first thing in the morning.

    ....

    ....


    It did not work. Neither the slime nor the dragon power worked. It has been several hours since I tried everything I could but nothing worked. Perhaps I did not have enough mana for these skills? I did not even know what Xenes' skill did. But the slime I was sure I could create at least one clone.


    "What am I missing?" I thought out loud.


    Then my thoughts were disrupted by a grating voice.


    "You seem to be doing something interesting." said Azurus in a joyful manner.


    "Hi Azurus! What do you want? I am not in the mood today"


    Although he promised me that he would teach me something incredible, it has been a few months since I stayed here and still I waited for that special lesson. Other time he just passed by, saying some silly jokes and ran off. Usually I stayed listening to him but now I was not really cheerful enough to listen to his jokes again.


    "What a rude kid! I am here to help you solving your problem and you just push me away like that. This must be the famous rebellious phase every parent has to go through!!!" he said while faking to cry.


    "I don't think you can help me anyway!"


    "Oh really! And here I thought I could help you with Xenes and Devas. Ok then don't mind me then. I will just go this way right here..." Azurus nagged as he jumped away.


    As soon as I heard the name Xenes and Devas, I immediately stood up. I thought no one was aware of the existence of the Abyss. How did he know these two names?


    "Wait! How did you know about them?" I shouted at Azurus. He stopped jumping away and turned to me.


    "I know a lot of things kid. Just between you and me, you don't have to hide about your 'special dream'. But that is not the problem isn't it? The problem is that you can't use Devas and Xenes' power.


    How about a deal? I will help you with unlocking these for you, or at least send you in the right direction and in return you will not ask me anything about how I know all this. Deal?" avowed Azurus.


    While he only looked like a normal slime, he clearly knew a lot more than he claimed to. But could I trust him... But if I can't unlock these powers, there might be a lot more I could not use. I would have to risk it. Beside he was also a demon, I did not think he would do something that could harm our goal.


    After spending a moment in deep thoughts, I finally agreed to his term.


    "Very well then. You got yourself a deal. Now tell me how to use these powers." I said to him.


    "As you know, the demon lord has access to the skills of his predecessors. You have gotten a few for yourself for example. But there are a type of skill that required more than just being a demon lord.


    The Bloodline Scion. Some demon lords were monsters themselves who evolved into a demon. To have their power, you will need the Scion of their bloodline, a proof that shows you are one of their kind in order to be able to use their abilities.


    For example, Devas is a slime himself and his ability is to create clone from his body. But the body of a slime and a human has nothing in common. Surely you can't expect that you can just pop out a clone of yourself with only your human body. Therefore you need to have a slime's essence inside you. Not just any slime but a pure one from the old bloodline. And as you can expect, those are incredibly rare.


    Lucky for you, I have just the right thing for you. Here take this!" Azurus threw a small blue gemstone at me.


    "That is the essence of a pure slime. Take it and you will be able to use Devas' ability."


    "But how exactly do I do that? Just swallow it?" I asked him.


    "In order to absorb the essence, you need a way to convert matters into incorporeal to be absorbed by your body. But you have something like that don't you boy?" he jested at me.


    He was aware of Belz's power too... How did he know about this? I really wanted to ask him but...


    I decided to test out right away. Using <Devour>, the gemstone disappeared into my hand and I felt something changing inside my body. It was my arms. They were turning transparent!!!


    "What the ???" I yelled out while looking at my melting arm. It was almost like a slime body.


    "Calm down! Breath! Control it and your arms will return to normal!" Azurus reassured me.


    I took a deep breath and expired heavily. Instead of focusing on my arms, I tried to empty my head. A moment later the arms returned to normal.


    "Good! Now try Devas' skill!" Azurus said to me.


    "<Replica>" I shouted.


    My left arm turned transparent again and this time it extended to the ground and twisted itself forming a clone of myself. The clone, at first transparent, turned into a black color. It looked just like a shadow now. Fascinating!


    "Congrat Alastor! Now you know how to use these skills. Find the Scions of the necessary race and absorb it for yourself. Eat and evolve! That's the nature of a monster!


    Unfortunately I don't have a dragon scion so you will have to find one for yourself. But I can assure you it would be worth your time." said Azurus.


    Then he turned around and started walking, or rather bouncing away.


    "Thanks but how do I get a dragon Scion?" I asked him.


    "Oh it's easy. Just kill one and eat it. But remember it has to be a pure one!"




    * * *




    A few days after the events at Caine Village

    Avant-heim, Citadel of the sky



    It has been three days since Ikarus was imprisoned in a prison cell. She was waiting for punishment for her actions at Caine village. Mikael, as the head herald, has accused her of treason and now she was on her way to the Hall of Justice, where her trial would take place in front of the community.


    As she walked through the golden hall shining under the warm sunlight, she received countless stares of the people participating in the trial. Hundreds have gathered to see a celestial on trial. They were curious. It has been a long time since a celestial was on a trial as it was not their nature to commit a crime.


    In their heart, they were the image of order and justice itself. Perhaps that was why none could understand the reasons behind the action of this lone celestial, who was also an executor, a symbol of justice.


    Now Ikarus stood in front of three old celestials, each holding a golden staff, showing that they were the judges of this trial.


    As the judge in the middle raised his staff and hit the ground, demanding silence in the court, the whispers stopped.


    "We are here today to witness the trial of Ikarus Salem. As the principal judge of this trial, it's my responsibility to make sure that the trial will be fair and everyone will have their right to talk and protest.


    Now we will begin with the statement from herald Mikael. If you please begin, herald!"


    None of the words spoken by Mikael reached Ikarus' ears. Or rather she ignored him. In her mind she was thinking about her own actions. Did she do the right thing that day? Or did she make the biggest of her life? She have asked herself that questions for days ever since she returned to Avant-Heim. But no matter how long she thought about it, she still believed that she made the right course of action, that she was innocent.


    She could have ran away. There were many opportunities. But she chose not to. The celestial believed in the justice system she was once a part of. And they would prove her innocence. They must.


    Before Ikarus realized it, it was already her turn to talk. But she simply said.


    "I have nothing to say. I believe that I have done the right thing that day and I would do it again if I have the chance."


    The court room was filled with whispers again.


    "How could she say something like that?"

    "Has she no shame?"

    "How pathetic!"


    She tried to ignore those statements. But one caught her attention.


    "I am disappointed in you Ikarus! How could you shame me like this? You are not my child"


    It was her father's. His angry voice was hidden by the whispers of the crowds but Ikarus could only hear his voice. That was the only one that counted for her. Her father was the reason she pushed herself in this position. She wanted to follow his steps, to be someone that he would be proud of.


    "Ikarus Salem, for your charges of insubordination, treason and associating with demons, the court find you guilty of all charges.


    In normal case, you will receive the capital punishment. But the court has taken in account your services and so we have decided that you will be exiled, never to return again.


    And to make sure that you will shame your race no longer, your wings will be cut off.


    The sanction will take place immediatly. Guards !"


    Ikarus could only hear a single word "Guilty". It kept repeating inside her head. Even when one of the guard seized her on the ground while the other took out his sword in one hand while holding Ikarus' wings on the other, she could not believe what she heard.


    Her trust in the system has been betrayed. Her family has abandoned her. And soon her wings, who had been with her for her whole life, they too would be gone.


    The guard raised his sword, waiting for the judge's permission. With a single hand gesture, the sword sliced down. The trial came to an end with an agonizing scream from Ikarus.
     
  13. necrophedius

    necrophedius Member

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    Chapter 11: One year later



    Alastor's POV



    Has it been already one year since I stayed at this place? Time truly passed so fast.


    While it was not a very eventful year, I have made considerable progress in term of my power level. Even though it was just training, I was on able to hold on my own against Mephisto and Naberius. Well I did hold back by not using all of my unique abilities from the old demon lords but we did not fight with our life on the line so it was difficult to tell.


    Now my lesson with Naberius consisted only of spars since he ran out of things to teach me. The same could be said with Amelia but she refused to fight with me.


    I have also mastered many more tricks from the Abyss. Not only did I find new Legacies, I have modified and improved those I already had. I discovered this by pure luck while spending time studying those abilities. However I was still not able to unlock Xenes' power because there was no dragon in this continent and I did not think I was ready to face one yet.


    As for Alice, she shocked me when Naberius took her as his apprentice. Apparently she had incredible strength and speed, even able to handle Naberius' axe with ease. I did not object her to train with him however. I was worried about her but I believed that she could take care of herself and she might need those skills one day. If I ever intended to be the demon lord, people would target me and those close to me. I could not afford to lose anyone again.


    "Hey Alastor, what are you thinking about?"


    I was currently in the Abyss. There were a dozen of shadows surrounding me, or rather they used to be shadow. Once I made a pact, or received the Legacy, from a shadow, they took on their original colorful form instead of just being a creepy black mist. And of course these shadows were those I made a pact with, except for Xenes who did not like hanging out with the others.


    The guy who was just speaking to me was Lucifer. Once a celestial, he became the demon lord after refusing to obey the order of those above him. Quite ironic for a guy who used to kill demon to become the king of demons himself. But this guy was very short-tempered and just wanted to kill everything so even I had trouble to control myself when I used his Legacy.


    "Nothing. Just reminiscing what happened for the last year. That's all." I said to him.


    "Boring. You are just going to rust here. Just go out there and kill those damn Primes!" Lucifer said with an irritated voice.


    "Perhaps you are right. My teachers don't have anything to teach my anymore. Staying here any longer won't get me stronger. But I worry about Alice. I don't want to endanger her by bringing her with me." I contemplated.


    "Then just leave her here. She is just going to be a burden for us..." Lucifer grunted.


    "Say that one more time Lucifer!" I raised my voice.


    "I am only saying the fact." As he said, he vanished into thin air.


    "Forget what he said Alastor!" It was Asmodeus. A few of the new powers I got was thanks to her negotiation skills.


    "Hehehe! Things might quite different from what you said Lucifer. Never judge a book by its cover!" another shadow joined the conversation.


    It was Nyx. He was an elderly human mage who was fascinated with demons and ended up being one. The guy seemed a bit crazy, always talking in a cryptic way or babbling about something no one understood.


    I started to get tired of these conversations. But what Lucifer said about leaving here did cross my head several times in these recents days. I should discuss to Mephisto about leaving this place. But what of Alice? needed to check with Alice first.

    ....

    ....

    ....


    "Alice I was thinking...." I tried to find the right words to speak.


    "What is this brother? I am listening. You can talk to me." Alice smiled at me.


    "I am thinking about leaving this place and I want to talk about it with you."


    "I will stay here" Alice swiftly answered.


    "But...." I spoke but she continued.


    "I will just be a burden with the way I am right now. But don't worry about me. I will join you once I am more capable. I want to protect you too little brother, not the other way around. I am the older one after all." She softly explained to me.


    KNOCK KNOCK. Someone knocked on the door outside.


    "If you don't mind me joining the chat." the door opened with Mephisto entering the room. "I could not help but hearing your conversation from the dialogue. But this is perfect, Alastor. I also agree that you should leave this place, go on your own adventure."


    "I have learnt all I could here. If I want to get stronger, I need to go on a journey. To see the world with my own eyes. Only then can I decide to accept being the demon king or not." I said to Mephisto.


    "And that's perfectly reasonable. Please don't worry about Alice. We will take care of her until you return." Mephisto divulged.


    With that, we decided that I would depart the next morning with Stella. While I still had some doubts about Alice, she reassured me that she would be fine by herself and I should think more about me instead.


    And so my adventure finally began.




    * * *




    "What is this about leaving the demon realm? I can't believe he decided just like that without consulting us." Asmodeus was not happy. She thought it was too early for a boy like Alastor to go on an adventure, even with someone else like Stella. "It's all because of you, Lucifer. Putting that idea into his head"


    "Oh please! He already thought of it before I even mentioned it. That boy thinks just like me. It would be great if he turns out to be as outstanding as I am." Lucifer mused.


    "Oh great! Becoming a psycho going around killing everyone he meet is just the thing he needs. I knew I could not trust you when you voluntarily made a pact with him." Belz joined the fray.


    "The problem is that if he is found out as the demon lord, the whole world will be looking for him to kill him." Asmodeus added.


    "Perfect! Then he can get even more training that way. What better to improve yourself than killing those powerful?" Lucifer jested.


    "What if they send the hero ? He is certainly not ready to go against the hero by himself." Asmodeus asserted.


    "That won't happen" A loud grave voice came from above. A giant dark sphere with a shining crimson dot like an eye descended.


    Asmodeus and the others did not understand what Magnus was talking about. Ever since the beginning of time, whenever the Demon Lord appeared, the Hero would also follow. The Gods made sure of that.


    "What do you mean it won't happen?" Asmodeus asked Magnus. But the answer she got only made her more anxious. Magnus looked above with his red eye as if he was talking to someone else and not her.


    "Can you feel it Eden? How we shake the entire Heavens. Your Hero won't come and your minions are surrounded by darkness. And when you decide to come out of your throne, we will be there for you. Ha ha ha! HA HA HA HA HA!"


    * * *



    Looking out the window, Mephisto watched as Alastor and Stella leaving the castle. Noroeth and Amelia were also there with him. The news of Alastor leaving shocked everyone, except for Mephisto.


    "I still cannot agree with this. He is just a boy. Why did you let him go like that?", an angry Noroeth expressed his view.


    "We have nothing more to teach him. If we want what's best for him, for him to grow, then this is the best course of action. It's not like I don't understand your concerns but remember that he is the one who wants this. I ask that you respect his decision." Mephisto answered firmly.


    Noroeth cluched his staff. He wanted to say something but held back. In his heart he knew he would have to let the boy go find his own path one day. He just did not expect it so soon.


    "Anyway we still have a lot of things to do. If things go according to plan, Alastor will come back in two years. Until then we need to prepare our force. Amelia, how are things down at Tartarus?" Mephisto changed the subject.


    "Ten thousands undeads ready. Take a bit more time because we don't have any corpse so I need to create undead by myself. From Naberius, about five hundreds Storm Wolves, six hundreds Hell Hounds and one thousand beastmen. As for Azurus, it's a bit unclear but at least one hundred basilisks and ten hydras."


    "Azurus, despite his personality, always surprises me with his findings. Where does he even find those monsters? But never mind. As for the undead, it's a bit less than my calculations. I will try to ask the supplier for more." Mephisto commented on Amelia's report.


    "Funny how it was from those human merchants we get the corpses. Even though they knew we are demons." Amelia chuckled.


    "If there is one thing I know about human, it's they care only about themselves, more than anything. They might speak some brave words but in the end it's to each his own. Wars keep those merchants profits. And that's exactly what we are giving them. Trust me! I know how despicable human can get." Mephisto clenched his heart as he spoke those words. "Anyway if there is nothing else, you may go!"


    Amelia excused herself and leaved the room. Noroeth was on his way to the door before he heard from Mephisto again.


    "Noroeth, to properly answer your question earlier, Alastor is no longer a boy. He might look like one but he is a capable man. Something his father did not have." Mephisto spoke.


    "What do you mean?"


    "King Asgore was a brave and strong man. I will not deny it. But there is something he lacked. Something all rulers must have: cruelty. He chose not to kill those who invaded our lands, even those who tried to kill him. I understand his reasons though. He thought peace could be reached if he refused to fight.


    But this world does not work like that. No matter how much you wish for peace, it won't come. Not without a price. And in many case, that price is your own conscience. Cruelty is not about enjoying the suffering of your enemy. Cruelty is about being prepared to make the difficult decision, whether you like it or not. When you decide to sacrifice one hundred to save a thousand. That's cruelty. When you kill a child to save a country, that's cruelty.


    As for Alastor, it's too soon to say if he is capable of that kind of cruelty but at least I know this: he is not of afraid of killing.


    Which raises the question: when the day comes, when Alastor ask you to lead his army, will you be able to kill your own countrymen?


    Please think about it the next time you refer to him as a boy."


    Noroeth was left speechless. Mephisto took off from the room. As he walked through the hall, memories of his past, when he was still human, came back to him. The people he betrayed. The sins he committed. The children.


    "This child will be my final sin. I do not expect nor do I deserve forgiveness. Please just wait a little bit more everyone! Your teacher will come home soon!"


    * * *



    Alastor's POV


    "Stella where should we go first?" I asked Stella.


    I decided to leave Alice at castle to continue her training while Stella would be coming with me. But I thought even if I did not want to, she would still follow me anyway. Still having a companion helped ease the boredom of adventure and the person I trusted most was Stella.


    She had assisted me with many tasks during my stay at the demon castle: training, studying. I could not think of a moment without her around me. Even when I slept, she just sat next to me, watching me I guessed. It was a bit unsettling at first, knowing someone was staring at you the whole night when you slept but I fathomed you could get use to anything with time.


    She said she had no need for sleeping as she was a doll. I assumed that every construct needed to recharge its power, or mana supply every there and then but Stella was special since she was the last creation of the Artificier so she did not need any power source.


    "I will follow everywhere you go." she answered me.


    Guess I should decide then. I wanted to go to the Mara continent but it meant that we needed to travel by sea and that meant a port. There was also a hidden way not many knew of.


    Actually the continent of Mara and Ragna was linked by a series of underground tunnels, passing even under the sea. It was because Ragna used to be linked to Mara until an earthquake sunk a portion of the land, separating Ragna and Mara. But now that land was still under the sea and linked the two continents.


    I decided to choose the sea road as I have never seen the sea before. And so we headed towards the coast to the south, hoping to find a town and harbor.


    The castle was located in the southern part of Ragna so it would take a few days by foot to reach the coasts. Although this was the demon territory, occasionally group of humans could be spotted wandering around. Some were adventurers hoping to find something of value. Others were bandits and slavers who took refuge around the coast.


    If there was one thing I hated, it was slavery. Taking away someone else's freedom for your own gain, making them despicable things I would rather not name.


    I have heard that these slavers not only captured people of their own race to sell back at Mara, but also demons. In truth, demons were well known for being slaves, especially humanoid ones.


    And the fate of the demon slaves was sealed the moment they got caught. They would be branded so people could recognize them. To make matter worst, they were considered as mere entertainment tools and even if they managed to escape, it would be only a matter of time before someone else killed them as people of Mara did not take kindly of wandering demons.


    After two days of unexciting, saved for a few monsters encounter during the way, we finally arrived at a small town. This would be the first town I visited ever since I left Caine.


    And it was disappointing. By that I meant all the drunkards lying on the streets, the ground covered in dirty mud. By the look of it, it seemed they were slavers, with the slaves locked in those cages.


    As I passed through, the slaves were inside cages so small like dog cages that they had to bend themselves to fit in. There were all kind: human, elf, beastman and demons. The reason I recognized they were demon because they were marked with a brand on their arm or leg. How sickening!


    If I did not want to reveal myself I would have burn this place to ashes. Lucky for them we needed a boat and a crew to traverse the sea. But I would not be pushed around. If it came to it, I might just let go my rage.


    It seemed our presence did not go unnoticed. Thanks to her gloves hiding her wooden hands, Stella could be passed by as a normal human girl, an alluring one. Crossing the town, I could sense the stares from those tipsy shitheads looking at Stella. How they drooled at her.


    And now I was surrounded by a bunch of guys in grimy clothes. Look like bandits, trashes. One of they went up to me.


    "What's up little boy? Got lost from your mama? Hahaha" a muddy bandit said.


    "I would appreciate if you stick your stinking mouth away from me. Me and my sister here would like to cross the sea." I said to him.


    "Gutsy! I like it brat. So you want to cross the sea. But it's not cheap you know." the jerk continued.


    "I have the money. Question is do you have a boat?" I asserted.


    "You hear that boys? He got the money. Well I do have a boat. But I may need something else, aside from the money you know." the guy babbled. He started to irritate me. "If your sister is ok to spend a night with me, I will think about it."


    "And ask your mother too. Hehehe. I will take care of her for you." another voice came from the crowd.


    "...."


    "Stella if you please...." I said to Stella.


    "That's what I am talking about, boy. You sure know how to negotiate."


    "....go ahead and burn this town. Spare the slaves if you can!" I finished.


    In an instant Stella made a crystal cutter and stuck it into the bandit. Blood gushed out his neck and he fell down, dead.


    "She killed him. That bit..." another bandit yelled. It was the bastard who talk about my mother earlier. But I used a wind spell to cut his legs off before he could even finish.


    I was not supposed to be able elemental magic since I got no elemental affinities. But I found a way to fix this problem. The reason I could not use them was because I need an element inside my body to convert the pure mana into elemental mana, necessary to cast spell of that element. But thanks to Nyx's special ability, <Elemental Lord>, I could summon elemental orbs, which would serve as catalyst to cast the spell for me. All I needed to do was pour in the pure mana into these floating orbs around me and it would do the rest.


    As the guy screamed in pain, I grabbed his head and whispered into his ears.


    "You may insult me. You may try to kill me. I get it. But if you talk bad or try to hurt my family, I will find you. I will break your limbs! I will gut your heart and shove it down your throat! And finally I will shatter your soul so no one would known you even existed.


    Rejoice since I am in a good mood today so I only take your legs. Next time, it would something more .... interesting"


    Upon seeing two of their people got cut down like nothing, the bandits started screaming and ran away. 'This will be fun!' I thought.


    "Stella I will take care of this part of town. Can you check the other part?" I said.


    "Of course Alastor!" and there she went.


    "Now how should we do this?" I asked myself. "How about this?"


    I cast a fireball, and another and another. Just because you lived by the sea didn't mean you were safe from fire.


    A few bandits gathered and started sprinting toward me with their axes and sword. There were even some archers behind.


    Finally some resistance. But it would not change much. Look how they burned. Like moth to flame they ran toward the fire. Until only ashes remained.


    It seemed I kinda lost myself a bit there. The smell of burning flesh was filling the air. Except for the slaves inside the cage who I intentionally avoided, everything else in the area has already turned to dust, houses or men alike.


    Time to free those slaves. As I went near the cages, the slaves held inside trembled in fear. It was a natural reaction I guessed. A kid just killed a few dozens people in front of them after all.


    Perhaps I should show my good wills. I made a finger snap and the cages cracked open.


    "Stay away demon!" as soon the door was gone, the slaves ran and fled into the woods. So this was what I got for helping people.


    But there was a few still staying where they were. As I thought they were demons. But not all of them. A young human boy around my age I guessed was covering his ears and shutting his eyes, while shivering in fear.


    "Hey are you ok ?" I tried to touch him but a female elf jumped to his side and bowed her head.


    "Please don't hurt the young master! I beg of you!!! He is just a boy."


    Brown hair with dark eyes in a half torn rag. And she had the brand on her left arm. So she was a demon. But why did she protect him? I thought someone like her would jumped at the chance to kill her master.


    "I won't. Who are you two? And why do you call him young master? And please don't lie to me!" I tried to calm down the elf.


    "My name is Tasha. This is my master Edward. We were just outside of the capital for a trip when the bandits caught us and brought us here to make us slaves. Please the young master is just a child and he treats me kindly. Don't kill him!" she begged me.


    "I don't intend to kill him. I just want to get a boat to go to Mara." I said.


    "In that case if you can take us with you back to Cedra, I am sure the lord will be reward you kindly for saving his son." Tasha proposed.


    An interesting offer. It would also help me establishing a connection at the capital of Ceadric, Cedra and perhaps even some money on the side.


    "Agreed. I promise I would bring you two safe back to Cedra. But I expect some heavy reward." I said to Tasha.


    "Of course. Thank you, lord ..." she said, wanting to ask my name.


    "Alastor. And don't call me lord please. I mean it. I am barely older than him." I spoke.


    "Oh I apologize. I have met demons before that is much older than they appeared so I assumed you are the same, seeing how strong you are." Tasha said.


    True, I knew a few people like that.


    "Alright. Please pack up your things and meet us at the harbor! And I think you know this but don't call me a demon in front of someone else. Or else I might just have to take care of both of you." I said to Tasha. It made the elf shivered in fear thinking what might happen to her if she did not keep her mouth shut. I thought I might like this. I might even be a sadist.


    After leaving Tasha and Edward to do their things, Stella rejoined me. Judging from the rising flame from the other side of town, not much was left alive over there. Luckily there was still a boat left intact so I could use it. As for the crew, I needed it to use as cover but I guessed there would be no need for it now. I could just control the water flow to guide us there.


    "Stella there will be two others with us. A woman and a boy. We need to bring them to Cedra as our first priority. Then we will see where to go from there." I spoke.


    She was a little unhappy at first but agreed anyway.


    Looking back at the destruction I caused, I was taken by my thoughts and spoke out loud.


    "I did not even feel anything when I killed them. Did I change that quickly? Or was I always like this? Should I feel remorse for this?"


    Hearing me saying my thoughts, Stella slowly walked to me from behind and embraced me.


    "Listen to my voice, Alastor! There is no need for you to feel bad. You don't feel anything when you step on an ant and you shouldn't. You don't have to see them as people." she spoke softly. Even though she was a doll, her skin felt so real and the warmth from her body, so genuine.


    "I don't know if those words were supposed to be comforting" I smiled at her words. But it only made her hold onto me tighter.


    We stayed like that for a brief moment before moving on. Cedra was located in the northern part of Ceadric but still far from the sea. But there was a canal leading from the coast straight to Cedra and we could use that road to gain time instead of walking on land.


    Although the plan was altered a bit, we still had a boat. Next stop: Cedra.
     
  14. necrophedius

    necrophedius Member

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    Chapter 12: The wingless angel



    Alastor's POV


    It has been two days since we left Ragna on this boat. Thankfully the weather was good for sailing so we might arrive at Cedra in a few days.


    Two women and two children alone on a boat, that ought to raise some attention at the borders. But as long as the guards were common soldiers it would not be a problem.


    As for the passengers, the boy did not dare to come near me. He was still shaken up by the slaughter I carried out at the town. Pretty natural I guessed since he was still a kid. Although everyone else would probably be the same if they saw what I did.


    I have talked a lot with Tasha and learnt a bit about their background. The kid Edward was the only son of the House Osborne, a relatively small noble household which did not hold much influence but still a noble. Edward was a very shy boy and pretty mediocre in magic. Apparently, many have said that he was talentless but if you asked me, there was no such thing as talent. Okay perhaps a little bit but everyone, if taught the right way, could achieve something with efforts.


    Edward was a rare type of man, the kind who pitied the demon. Perhaps it was because he was still young. But when he met Tasha's eyes during a slave auction on the street, seeing how she was beaten almost to dead, he could not stand the cruel treatment they were doing to her and that was how Tasha ended up being saved by Edward. His parents did hesitate a little bit when they heard the news but they caved in when seeing their timid boy begging for something the first time in his life.


    This action did bring him some persecution as normally when one purchased a demon slave, it usually did not last long as they were only seen as amusement and pleasure objects. They would be either thrown away or ended up dead after a few months. But it has been three years since Tasha stayed with Edward and it was clear that he treated her well. So rumors started spread around that Edward was a demon sympathiser, making the target of bullies and such at school.


    As for Tasha, she was deeply grateful to young Edward and pledged to protect the young master. But when she knew of the trouble she caused for her dear Edward, she wanted to leave but Edward insisted that she stayed.


    The story was so dramatic and touching it almost brought a tear to my eyes. Just kidding! Why the hell did she just tell me her life story? I only asked her about Edward's family and she started babbling about how she met him and such. How could someone talk that much? It exceeded my understanding.


    We finally crossed the borders without much trouble. Thanks to my negotiation skills, the soldiers did not even bother to check us and simply let us through.


    Now that we were located in the northern part of Ceadric, the area reminded me of home. This was where I stayed for most of my life after all. I did not go out a lot but I remembered where Caine village was, or used to be.


    After the attack, Mephisto did send some lookouts to search for any info but they did not find any survivor or news regarding this incident as even all the soldiers attacking were killed by someone else.


    When I thought about what happened, I had a sudden urge to go back to there, where it all started. Perhaps I should, if not for finding clues then at least for closure.


    And so I convinced the others to take a detour, or rather forced them to.


    From afar, we could see a small town. Perfect, just what we needed right now. When I left the castle, I did not consider take in these two with me so supplies ran out pretty quick.


    As we approached the town, there seemed to be a commotion going on here. I could see a group of people on horse, equipped with weapons.


    "Why are you stopping?" asked Tasha.


    "Are you blind? Look over there. Can't you see those guys are armed?" I told her.


    "Doesn't look like farmers to me. Bandits?" Tasha said.


    "Stay quiet! I will go take a look!" I signalled Stella to follow me while Tasha and Edward would stay behind.


    I jumped on a nearby tree to observe the situation. Sure seemed like bandits.


    "Where is the usual tribute? I thought we have a deal, old man." a guy who seemed like the leader of the bandits said, next to a pile of goodies.


    "I am very sorry sir. This month the crops did not sell very well so this is all we could gather. If you could please give us more time..." the old man, who seemed like a village elder, begged the bandit.


    "Really? If I bring only this amount back, the boss will not be very happy you know? And you know how he is when he is not very happy. Just look at the village next to yours, Cain or something, look how it ended up!" the bandit laughed out loud.


    Did he just say Caine village? It seemed I would have to talk to this guy a bit.


    "Please just give us a few more days." but the old man was pushed to the ground without mercy. The others bandits, watching the scene, simply laughed at the poor old fool who continued to kneel on the ground.


    But then someone stopped their laughter.


    "You cowards!!! Have you no shame, terrorizing innocents like that?"


    I turned my head to the source of the voice. I could not believe my eyes. It was that god damn blue haired celestial who held Alice hostage during the attack. What was she doing here? Could the celestials have sensed my presence here already? I decided to stay hidden for a little longer to watch how things unfolded. At least now the village would not have to worry about the bandits.


    But I was wrong, incredibly wrong. The celestial, who I thought was quite powerful, just received a full punch in her stomach, making her fall to the ground. How the hell was she that weak? And where were her wings? I could see something poking out of her back, almost deformed with feathers covering it. Did her wings get cut?


    "You again? Damn annoying bitch. Every time I come here, you just can't shut your mouth heh? Did you miss my punches that much?" he continued to beat the fallen celestial. When his fists started to feel sour, he turned to kick her. She was completely a bloody mess.


    But none of the villagers even tried or showed to care about her. Even what the old man say surprised me.


    "Please sir! You could just take that woman and sell her as slave. It could make up for the small amount this time."


    "Are you kidding me? Who the hell would want a monster like her? Just look at the thing on her back already make me want to puke." as he kicked her one final time, he fixed his clothes and mounted on his horse. "I am tired already. I will come back tomorrow and if you don't have enough, it will be your head old man."


    With that said, the bandits left the village. Every villager has already left the town square, leaving a bloodstained woman lying down on the ground.


    "Serve you right!" I thought out loud. While she did not directly kill Morgan, she was still one of them. I should just leave her to die.


    Then I saw that she was still breathing. With her delicate hand, she tried to crawl away but it seemed like her bones were broken.

    ....

    ....

    ....

    I would hate myself for this.


    * * *




    Gazel's house

    Alastor's POV



    "....where am I?" so she finally awaked.


    "My house. And you are on my bed so don't move or the wound will open again. Don't want to make it more bloody than it already is." I said to the lady on the bed.


    "You...I know you.... You are..." she sobbed. Seeing my face must bring back bad memories. The woman started to panic, looked around for a weapon to defend herself.


    "Don't move!" I said louder.


    I caught her hands and kept her lie down on the bed.


    "You are too weak to even hurt me anyway. Please don't let me regret saving you!"


    As I said, she calmed down a bit. I looked at her one more time. She was in rag, her face dirty by mud. The body covered with scars. What the hell happened to her?


    "Since you are here like this, I assume the guys up there did not take kindly what you did."


    But she remained silent. Her eyes still started at me, watching my every move. I only saved her since she released Alice last time but now I was starting to regret this already.


    Judging from the situation she was in, I figured that Mikael has exiled her and cut off her wings for letting me go. What a bastard! Taking out on others because of his own failure! I should have absorbed him completely instead of just his arm.


    "Why?" she finally spoke to me.


    "Let's just say this is thanks for letting Alice go." I said to her while checking her wounds.


    "But you are a demon." she talked back.


    "And you are a celestial. So what? A pair of wings won't make you that different from me. Demons have feelings too you know.


    As for me, I don't really like watching woman being abused. Unless they are my enemy."


    "Aren't we enemies?"


    "...No. Not yet. You were simply doing what you thought was best. You do what your heart tell you. I like that kind of person." I said to her. "But you are an idiot for defending those ungrateful jerks at the village."


    "I did what was right to do. I could not let innocents people suffering like that."


    "And look at that bravery, that kindness had led you to. You can't even beat a kid. Even after what you have done, not a single one of them cared about you. Even after the bandits left. When I asked them if I could borrow a room to take care of you, you know what they said to me? 'Let that monster die! We don't want anything to do with it.' Those are the people you tried to defend." I raised my voice.


    "They.... were simply scared since I look hideous like this." the woman moved her hand to her back, reaching for what's left of her wings.


    "The same thing was said about us demons. We are different so we must die. Screw them! No wonder so many demon lords wanted to destroy to the world."


    After finishing checking her wounds, I renewed the bandages. She was a bit distressed by what I said. Perhaps I said too much. Now I was starting to feel sorry for her. What was wrong with me today?


    "Drink this it would help you sleep." I gave to her a potion, specially made by Amelia.


    She slowly took it and as she drank it, it clearly showed on her face that it did not taste good.


    "It's bitter" she gulped.


    "Of course it is. Plenty of poison and all."


    "What?" she almost tried to spit it out but I stopped her.


    "Just joking. See that wasn't so hard was it? Drinking a random potion from a demon. Now sleep! I will be downstairs so come back when you are awake!"


    I fixed the blanket to her neck to cover her tattered clothes. I then went to the door. As I opened the door, I turned back and said to her.


    "Just so you know. You are still beautiful if you ask me."


    The celestial's face turned to red when she heard what I said. Her eyes tried to look away from me. Seeing how embarrassed she was, it was totally worth it.





    * * *



    Ikarus' POV



    What was happening to me? How did I end up in a demon's home? And he was taking care of me at that. Ever since that day, I have had these bewildering thoughts, these doubts against my faith and my own judgment.


    We ignored the innocents, to go after someone we presumed wicked. But what I saw that day was no demon nor villain. All I saw was a boy trying to save his family. And we took away that family from him.


    After the trial, I was thrown out of Avant-Heim. When I woke up, I found myself next to where we first encountered that boy. But no one else lived there anymore. The town was completely destroyed, its residents dead. I thought we as celestials were supposed to be the embodiment of justice, an example to follow for the others races.


    What we did was no better than those bandits.


    Even though I lost my wings, I did not lose hope. I still believed in what I must do. So when I learnt about how the nearby village was plagued with bandits, I decided to protect it from the bandits. But the villagers did not accept me. They called me demon for how I looked like. Despite the fact that I was trying to save them.


    At that moment, I realized. Could it be how demons have felt all these years? Being misunderstood by the whole world? If that was true, then what did I believe in for my entire life?


    Was this my punishment for what I have done? Perhaps it was. I will embrace my sin and accept my retribution.


    But it was so hard. Living alone in the wood, suffering all these beatings. I could not endure it any longer.


    And he came to me. The boy.


    I destroyed his family. I killed his mother. And yet he still chose to save me, despite what I did.


    How long has it been since the last time someone was kind to me? He saw me redden when he called me beautiful. But it was not embarrassment that I felt. It was happiness toward the kindness I received. Tears poured out of my eyes. These tears used to be filled with anguish and sorrow, now were tears of joy.






    * * *



    Alastor's POV


    I could hear her crying from downstairs.


    "Still a child at heart." I smiled.


    After moving her here, I asked Stella and the others to go back to the town to purchase supplies. Without me and the celestial, they should be able to buy something.


    After a while, the girl finally went downstairs. Better ignored her crying.


    "Did you sleep well?" I asked her.


    "Yeah. Thank you!" she bowed her head to thank me. Quite a sudden change in attitude. Women never ceased to surprise me.


    "You still did not tell me your name. By the way I am Alastor."


    "My name is Ikarus Salem. You can call me Ikarus." she told me.


    "Well Ikarus! What's your plan after this?" I asked her.


    "I don't know. What about you? Why are you here? I thought you are at the Demon Continent." Ikarus spoke.


    "I was but after a while I got bored so I decided to travel a bit for some fresh air. As for my plan, I don't know. Perhaps become the demon lord, destroy the world. Kidnap a princess, lock her in a tower with a dragon. Something like that."


    "...."


    "I am just joking!" I smiled at her. "But seriously, I am on a journey to create a world for my family."


    "A world for your family? What do you mean?" She asked me curiously.


    "A world where me and my family can live in peace without worrying about getting killed. I am a simple man, Ikarus. I am not trying to change the world nor do I wish to destroy it. I am not a benevolent nor a virtuous one. All I want is to be left alone, live my life as I see fit. But if this world would not allow me to have that right, if this world wants me dead, then I will make sure that it will go down with me.


    And so before taking my decision about what I should do with, I intend to travel and see the world through my own eyes. I will see to it whether this world is still worth saving." I proclaimed.


    "Then let me go with you!" Ikarus said to me. Caught me in complete surprise.


    "Hum...why ?" I asked her.


    "I know you are not evil. You want to see the world for yourself. And I want to be a part of it."


    "Why? So you can kill me when the time comes?" I inquired.


    "So I can make sure that you see the good side of it." she said to me.


    "...You are weird." I jested at her.


    "People have told me that." she finally smiled. "Anyway what now?"


    "We wait for the others. Do you want something to eat?" I asked Ikarus.


    "So there are others with you. Don't mind me. I will just sit here." Ikarus moved to the table and sat down on the opposite of me.


    I looked at where her wings used to be. They were big, pure white the last time I saw it. Now all that was left was greyish broken. She saw me examining her and moved her hands back to caress her back.


    "Did it hurt?" I asked her gently.


    "Most painful thing I have endured. But that is not the worst of it. They are a part of me and now I lost them. A celestial's wings is everything to them. Once we lost it, we lose our power, everything.


    But you don't have to worry about it. I will try to not be a burden to you." Ikarus forced a smile on her face.


    I felt sorry for her. Letting me go has caused her to lose everything. If only I could do something about it. Then suddenly, a thought came to me. For the year I stayed at the demon castle, I have met a peculiar demon lord. Her power did not impress me that much compared to the others. Most likely because I did not know what I could use it for. Perhaps now it was time to test it.


    "Ikarus, would you like to have your wings back?"
     
  15. necrophedius

    necrophedius Member

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    Chapter 13: Chain of bond



    Alastor's POV



    I found myself in the Abyss again. This place was still the same as ever, constantly veiled under a black mist. In front of me sat a human female on the ground. She had long black hair covering her face. The most peculiar aspect of hers was what she wore. Chains, lot of chains as if she was a prisoner. Her hands and legs were shackled. Her arms covered by chains. Even her body did not have a single shred of cloth but only chains, enough to conceal her private parts. A black tattoo trailed from her legs to her face.


    "So you finally found one." said the woman.


    "Alice has one too you know. But yes I admit that I did not expect to find one so soon." I said.


    "Alice is your sister. I don't count her as the first. But as for this woman, you barely talked to her. And she was an enemy." she continued.


    "I will manage it. No need to worry about me, Beatrix!"


    "The chain works in both ways Alastor. It will affect both her and you. Just like our pact, there is a price for everything. There is a reason why demon lords don't want to give their power so easily."


    "I already knew about that. You don't have to remind me of that. Let's just get on with this."


    "I hope you know what you are doing!"


    Beatrix stood up and took out a chain from her body.


    "Are you ready?" she asked me, holding the chain with her arm.


    "Will it hurt?" I said.


    "I will try to make it as painful as possible."


    "What!!"


    Without warning, the chain lashed out at me and pierced my heart. It hurt much more than I thought it would.


    Meanwhile in the real world, Ikarus has prepared herself and sat next to my sleeping body. As I opened my eyes, from my chest, opened up a black whole. The chain flew out and plunged into her heart, opening up a white hole. Something was beating inside. Was this Ikarus' heart?


    The chain ensnared her beating heart. I could feel her pain, passing through the chain to my own. So the link was established.


    It was finally over. The chain disappeared, together with the holes on our chest.


    "What....was that?" Ikarus asked me, trying to catch her breath.


    "The <Chain of bond>. It allows me to give you a portion of my power as long as you have that ring on you." I explained to her with my hand still clenching my chest. Even though the pain has passed, it still hurt a bit.


    Ikarus did not realise that a silver ring has manifested itself on one of her finger. A gleaming gem as blue as the sky was embedded on the ring.


    "What a beautiful ring! So does it work?" Ikarus looked at the ring with excitement.


    "Focus your mana into it! As for its power, even I don't know. It depends on you and what you want. For now just think about your wings!" I advised.


    Ikarus closed her eyes, trying to focus. The rings started to glow as Ikarus was enveloped by a blue light. The next moment, when the light dimmed a little, I could see it. Her back no longer had the broken wings. Instead a grand pair of translucent wings extended from Ikarus. Even her scars were fully healed.


    "Magnificent!" I blurted at the sight.


    As for Ikarus, she simply looked at her new wings, silently. Did she not like it perhaps?


    "Sorry they are not pure white like the original one!" It seemed I screwed up a bit.


    "No no that's not it. It's just they are beautiful." her voice wavered."Thank you! Thank you!" At that instant, she grasped me and hugged me tightly.


    It was difficult to breath but I let her anyway. I kind of liked this feeling.


    "Uhmmm....do you want us to come back later?" a female voice woke me up.


    Ah damn it. Stella, Tasha and Edward were staring at us. In an instant I pushed Ikarus away. Seeing the others, Ikarus flustered with her pink cheeks.








    * * *




    "Alright Ikarus! Time for you to go test the ring's power!" Alastor said to the celestial next to him.


    The group was now in front of the bandit's hideout. This was due to Ikarus who wanted to exterminate them before leaving the village.


    When he asked her why she would do such a thing, even after being treated like that, she simply answered "Because I want to believe in people".


    Alastor could not comprehend the reason that would push Ikarus so far. What was it? Selfish justice? Or something else? As for Alastor, this coincided with his interest. He remembered the bandit talking about Caine village. They must know something about the incident last year.


    Ikarus lifted her hand and focused on the ring. A magic circle opened on the ground and something came out of it. With her right hand bearing the ring, she grasped the object and pulled it out.


    A white spear adorned with two small angelic wings on both sides. The tip resembled a cross shape. The tip and the handle was connected by a blue gleaming crystal.


    "Let's go! Stella please protect Tasha and Edward!" Alastor gave his order.


    With that, Alastor and Ikarus charged forward into the bandit's camp.



    * * *



    "Drink it up boys! For tomorrow we have a raid to do! Hahaha!" the bandit leader said while gobbing down his booze.


    "Boss, what if they give us the right amount as we demand?" one of the minions asked.


    "Doesn't matter. That village is already out of resource. We will need to find another one soon anyway. Also the archduke has given me orders to move closer to the capital and find a target there."


    "I still could not believe that the archduke is with us in this. Not only he sent us reinforcement from the army, he even stopped any bounties on us to appear. Without the bounty from the capital, no one would be able to stop us now. Truly amazing."


    "Just remember to make it look like a demon's attack and leave not a single thing that could trace back to us or the duke!"


    "No problem boss! We have been doing this for more than a year already. We know our stuff! Too bad we lost half of our group last year at that damn village. Heard there truly was some monster showing up and killed everyone."


    "Well the less we are, the more we get for each of us. I don't see a problem with that."


    "ha ha ha good good! Well then! A toast to our richness!"


    "I see. So the archduke was behind this. No wonder the men who attacked the village was wearing their emblem. Bunch of idiots." a disembodied voice startled the drunk bandits.


    "What? Who is there? Show yourself!" the bandit leader, sobered up and shouted out loud.


    From the shadows, a kid and a woman holding a spear emerged.


    "You are that monster!!!" a bandit pointed at the woman. It was the woman he almost beat to death earlier that day.


    He grinned at the easy opponents. A brat and a sickly woman.


    "Let me take care of this boss!"


    The bandit took out his sword. But before he could even more from his spot, the poor bastard felt a slight pain in his chest. He looked down, only to find himself impaled by the spear he saw. But it was not just the pain he felt. His whole body was shivering and felt heavy. His breathing became slow and shallow. He tried to move his mouth but all he could do was mumbling intangible words.


    From the wound where the spear touched him, his skin started to freeze and in a mere matter of second, the bandit became a block of ice.


    Ikarus retracted the spear, causing the frozen bandit to shatter in thousand pieces. But the spear itself has changed. The previous blue crystal has now switched to a red color.


    Terrified by the scene they witnessed, the other bandits desperately lunged toward Ikarus in hope of killing her before she could move. Unfortunately for them, with a single swing, Ikarus has created a flaming corona burning them to ashes.


    Again after her attack, the crystal switched back to the usual blue color.


    Even Ikarus herself was surprised by the spear's abilities. As if her mind was one with her weapon, she immediately understand how to use it, swinging it around like a part of her body.


    The only one left was the bandit leader, still overwhelmed by the monsters in front of him.


    "Tell me all you know about the attack on the villages or I will let my associate here take care of you." the young boy spoke with a sinister grin on his face.


    "Please don't kill me! All I know is the archduke ordered us to attack the surrounding villages, making sure that it looks like a monster attack. In exchange he would lay us off the bounties and pay us a lot of money.


    Please that's all I know! Here is the order the archduke sent to me last year. You can take it!"


    The bandit took out a scroll and gave it to Alastor. On the scroll was the instructions for the attacks and a seal of the archduke.


    "Please let me go! I only did what I was told to do!" the bandit pled for his life.


    "But of course! I promise she won't harm you" Alastor said.


    Hearing that, the bandits was relieved. He could finally get out of his nightmare. He slowly walked by Ikarus, continuously observing her movement. But she simply let him go. The boy did tell him the truth. He could the exit by now. Finally.


    "But I will!"


    Alastor raised his hand toward the bandit and created a black hole in his hand. The bandit tried to run to the exit but the suction force was too strong. He carved his fingernails on the ground to try resisting. The exit was right in front of him but he could not reach it. In an instant he failed to grab at the last moment and disappeared into the hole.


    "Why not just kill him right away?" Ikarus asked the boy.


    "I wanted to let him hope. Let him see that he has a chance to get away alive. And at the last moment just before he could reach it, I took away that hope. That way he could feel the ultimate despair upon his moment of death, retribution for what he has done. Don't you agree?"


    With no answer from Ikarus, the two headed back to Stella. The poor doll did not very appreciate being separated from Alastor, even more letting him with a celestial. But Alastor did insist that the celestial would stay so Stella had no choice but to accept it.


    They continued heading toward Cedra. With luck, they would reach it in a few days.


    The next day, Edward approached Alastor fidgeting, while everyone else was still sleeping, except for Stella who never slept.


    "...Hi...Alastor!" he greeted him.


    "Good morning Edward! What can I do for you friend?" Alastor tried to be friendly toward to the boy. Edward has avoided him for the whole journey since leaving Ragna because what he did was a bit excessive in term of violence.


    "Can you teach me how to fight? I want to become stronger. Just like you. Like you did at the harbor and the bandit's hideout." he urged


    "So you did see me again at the cave." Alastor said


    "I..am sorry. I only peeked a little. But you were amazing back there."


    "I thought you were afraid of me because of that."


    "Yes a bit. But I know you did what you have to." Edward admitted.


    "Then tell me why you want to become stronger." Alastor asked.


    "At the harbor you said you would do anything to protect your family. To me, Tasha is someone of my family. It doesn't matter what everyone said about her. I don't care if she is a demon. I just want to be able to protect her. But right now I am weak, too weak to do anything." the boy confessed.


    "Protecting your family isn't just about strength. If you don't have the will for it, then it doesn't matter how powerful you get. Can you say with conviction that you are prepared to die for Tasha? Because if you can't then I will consider this conversation never happened."


    "I can" without hesitation the feeble boy looked at Tasha. His eyes filled with determination.


    "Louder" Alastor said.


    "I CAN"


    "Good. From today onward, I will teach you how to master your magic. Be prepared as I am a strict teacher!"




    * * *



    Alastor's POV



    It has been a week since I took Edward as my apprentice. Despite the fact that his mana pool was very low, he compensates with a very good control of his mana flow and has memorized all the basics.


    And he learnt pretty quickly, which made me curious on why he would do bad at school according to Tasha. Either the teacher was an incompetent or something else happened there.


    I have tried to ask him on several occasions but he always changed the subject while keep a somber face. Something was definitely up.


    But I did not press any further. It was not my business after all. As for my plan, I needed to find a way to investigate this Archduke. Hopefully since Edward came from a noble family, they could help me with something.


    Anyway we finally arrived at Cedra. Time to find the Osborn mansion.


    * * *



    Osborne Mansion



    It has been a few weeks since Edward disappeared without any news. Richard Osborne, current head of the family, was worried something might has happened to his son. But when he asked the help from the authority, they only responded by saying it was his fault for letting his son wandering alone with a demon. But Richard knew Tasha. Indeed she was a demon but he knew she was a kind woman. Of course no one listened to him when he said it.


    With his wife crying every night, Richard was getting desperate. He did not know what to do. But then from his study, he heard a loud voice echoing in the hall.



    "MY LORD MY LORD! The young master has returned!" a man ran as fast as he could to his master.


    "What? Where is he? Is he alright?" the lord asked his servant.


    "Yes I have led him to the guest room. He is fine my lord."


    Hearing his son has returned, Richard called his wife and ran to the guest room. As the door opened, he saw his precious son. Tears poured out as the parents were overjoyed seeing their child coming home. They ran to him, hugging him as close as they could. So they were not dreaming. Their son has indeed returned.


    "What a touching reunion!" a young voice spoke.


    It was then that Richard realized there were three others persons in the room, aside from Tasha. A white haired young boy with red eyes and two beautfil women: a silver short haired beautiful young woman and a charming blue haired one.


    Lord Richard hurriedly stood up and fixed his clothes.


    "I apologize for my behavior. I am Lord Richard Osborne, father of this boy and head of the Osborne family. May I ask who are you?" Richard asked.


    Before Alastor could even respond, Tasha quickly jumped in.


    "They are Alastor, Stella and Ikarus. On our way back to the mansion, we were kidnapped and brought to Ragna. If not for them, young master and I would have been sold as slaves somewhere else. They also brought us back here safely."


    "Oh dead lord! I did not know. These accursed bandits are getting more and more aggressive every day. But I did not think they would dare kidnap a noble in broad day light like this. Those bastards! In any case, it's good enough for that you two are safe. And where are my manners?" Richard turned to Alastor." In the name of the family Osborne, I want to give you three my profound thanks for saving my boy. Please accept this! I know it's not much compared to what you have done for us but it's a small token of our appreciation!"


    Rirchard took out a pouch filled with gold coins. But when he gave it to Alastor, the boy refused.


    "Thank you for your hospitality but we did not do this to receive a reward. It was common sense for us to help someone in need. So there is really no need for any kind of compensation" Alastor said firmly.


    "What???" Both Richard and Tasha yelled out in surprise. But when Richard turned to Tasha, she quickly covered her mouth and looked away.


    "But I could not just let you go without any kind of reward like this. Ah I know! Do you have somewhere to stay in the capital? Why not stay here for a few days? At least to let us thank you for what you did." Richard pleaded the two guests.


    "It's true that we don't have any place to stay. We are simply travelers you see. So if you don't mind we would like to take you on your offer." the boy responded.


    "But of course. Tasha, could you prepare rooms for this young man and lady?" Richard asked the maid.


    "I will be staying in the same room as Alastor." Stella spoke softly. She clang on his arm, showing that she did not want to be separated from him.


    "My apologies. My sister had trouble to sleep without me so if you could kindly let us share the same room." Alastor apologized for Stella's sudden behavior.


    "Please give me a room right next to his please!" Ikarus intruded.


    "But of course. There is no problem at all. Please take a rest! We will send a servant to get you once dinner is ready! Until then, please enjoy your time!" With that Lord Orborne took his wife and son excused themselves and left the room.


    Tasha led the trio to their rooms. On the way, she asked Alastor why he did not take the money even though he has told her that he expected a reward. But he simply answered that he had no need for money. Of course he did not. He already took a fairly large amount before leaving from the Vault. Also by refusing the money, Alastor could make the family indebted to him, allowing him to ask for their help when he needed, especially since it was his first time at the capital. Never hurt to have a connection with a noble family.


    While waiting for dinner, Alastor pondered to figure out what to do next. He could probably charge into this Archduke's house but that would cause unwanted attention. He still had others places to go after Ceadric so it would be better to not get a bounty on his head.


    Anyway it was time for dinner. Tasha just arrived to take them to lord Osborne. Perhaps talking with them might give Alastor some ideas.


    "So master Alastor, I heard from Edward that you are an exceptional talented mage. Is that right?" Richard asked the boy.


    "Is that right? What else has he told you about me? And please, lord Osborne, call me Alastor. I am too young and inexperienced to be called master." Alastor glanced at Edward, who shied away from his look.


    "He told me how you defeated the bandits and saved him and Tasha. And how he wishes to become like you. " Richard continued.


    "Please lord Osborne! You flatter me too much. I am sure with time young master Edward would one day surpass me easily". Alastor smiled at an embarrassed Edward but in his mind, it was quite different. 'Like hell you would!'


    "So Alastor, what's your plan after this? if I may ask." Richard asked.


    "To be honest, I don't have any plan yet. If I may ask, lord Osborn, are you familiar with the Archduke?" Alastor confided.


    "You mean Archduke Galatal? Yes I know him, only by name though. I have never met the man himself. He is the king's right hand. Especially ever since the king fell ill he has taken over of all the court's matter while waiting for the Prince to come at age, which will take place in a few months.


    Just between you and me! I heard there was some tension between the archduke's faction and the prince's. There are even rumors that the archduke is trying to assassinate the prince to take over. But those are just idiocy.


    Even if for such outrageous thing to happen, the council would never accept someone out of the royal family to be crown. They will just find another relative of the king in that case.


    Anyway it seems I have talked too much. Why do you want to know about him?" Richard explained.


    "Just simply curiosity milord. I am born a commoner in the country side so I am not very familiar with Ceadric's politics. Then may I inquire you more about the prince? Surely he should let these rumors lurking around like that." Alastor asked.


    "The prince does not have time for such lousy rumors. He is currently finishing his studies at Helios Academy. The same one as Edward goes to." Richard said.


    "What is this Helios Academy?" Alastor inquired.


    "The Helios Academy. By far it's known as the most prestigious school in the entire continent. Not only it has brilliant teachers from all corners of the world, the school is known for gathering the best students.


    To keep its reputation intact and not let any outside politics intervening with the students' education, the school follows a strict neutral policy.


    While it is located on Ceadric's territory, it has its own laws and rules that applied to everyone inside the school. It does not matter whether you are human or elf, commoner or royalty. Everyone is the same. Thanks to this policy, students from different countries can gather inside this institution without worrying about politics."


    Alastor's eyes brightened when he heard what Richard just said.


    This school would be the perfect next destination for Alastor. If he was a student, he could investigate how powerful everyone from different countries are. He could profit from the classes to learn one or two new things. Surely Mephisto and the others did not teach him everything. And most importantly he could approach this prince to inquire further about the archduke. If they were truly enemies, Alastor could take advantage of the prince's influence to take down the archduke. Now all he needed was to find a way to get in.


    "You said this is the school Edward go to?" Alastor asked. He remembered Tasha saying something about Edward was bullied at school.


    "Yes. He has been there for a year now. During the school year, you will stay inside the campus provided by the school but now it's the vacation so he went back to home to visit us. My son is not very bright but he is motivated so I sent him there. Which leads to my next question: would you agree to go to this school with my son?" Richard implored.


    For years, Richard has knew about the situation his son was in, how he was bullied at school. The father could not do anything about it. As they said: everything happened in Helios stayed in Helios. But now he has seen that his son has changed a bit from last time he saw him. It could be that this was thanks to young Alastor's influence. What his son needed was a friend.


    "It would be perfect for you. And since you two are close in term of age, you could be friends. You can teach him one or two about magic. At least he can't be worse than he is now, right? Of course the others two ladies can accompany you. I will take care of all the paper works and fees so you can just focus on your study. So what do you think?" Richard tried to convince Alastor.


    It seemed that coming here was the right decision after all.


    * * *



    Somewhere else in Astora



    Ten individuals were standing in a dark room around a large round table. A map of Astora was imprinted on the table itself. In front of each person lay a candle, enough to show someone was there but not their face.


    "May the glory of the Sanctus grant you strength. You all may sit!" one of the shades said. "Terrick, has there been any progress on your side?"


    "Aside from a few minors issues which do not require attention, the rest has been going smoothly. The archduke has done exactly as what we commanded. I have already given the artefact. With its help, soon he will take control of the whole of Ceadric itself. And that mean we will."


    "Minor issues you say? Terrick, what you are doing is crucial in taking over Ceadric. Please keep that in mind! I prefer no problems at all than minor problems. Deal with it quickly!"


    "Of course!"


    "And what about Zagon? Any news?"


    "Unfortunately it was not doing so well. The Empress proved to harder to break than we thought. Which is why I have arranged something else. It's just a matter of time before I succeed."


    "The Empress is the sister of the last Hero. It's no wonder that she would be difficult. However I would have wished that you talked to me before changing the plan! My plan!."


    "I only wish...."


    "We will talk about this later. Anything else?"


    "The elves have already been dealt with. A civil war is unavoidable at this point. All we need to do now is wait when the time comes."


    "Very good! Still don't be careless. It's when we thought we won that we usually lose. So make sure there would be no interference from outside."


    "It has been taken care of. No one would be able to come in Malatas right now."


    "Good. Then what about Oros?"


    "The plan at Oros is still undergoing. I have to rush it a bit since Celdora has already caught up with our plan."


    "Celdora has lived for a very long time. Everything that lived has to end one day. Now it's his time! Deal with it!"


    "Of course"


    "Sigh. So aside from a few minor problems, like Terrick said, everything else has been going on smoothly. Do you understand now Terrick? Compared to the scale of our plan, what they failed to do can still be considered a minor mistake, but still when you think about it, their mistake could cost us a nation."


    "I understand milord. I apologize for my ignorance!"


    "As long as you can learn something out of it. With that the meeting is adjourned."


    The nine shades disappeared in an instant, together with their candles fading out.
     
  16. necrophedius

    necrophedius Member

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    Chapter 14: School time



    "I can't believe I am going to school... Again! At my age!!!" the celestial sighed.


    "How old are you Ikarus?" asked Alastor.


    "You know it's rude to ask a woman's age? Ikarus glared at Alastor.


    "My apologies miss Ikarus! Master Alastor did not have many interaction with the opposite gender aside from me and his sister so his etiquette is still lacking." Stella bowed her head to Ikarus.


    For only a few days staying, Stella seemed to have opened up to Ikarus. Most likely since they shared the same interest: Alastor.


    Ikarus was curious about the boy. She wanted to be able to understand him, to see things from his view of point. And Stella was more than happy to talk about him.


    Together with Edward, the trio were currently in a carriage on their way to Helios Academy. Thanks to lord Richard, Alastor and the others have secured a place in the Academy but they still needed to pass a verification test to evaluate their level and find out which class they would be assigned to.


    "Uhmm.. Master!" a soft voice spoke out.


    "Edward I told you that outside our training session, you will call me Alastor. It would be be weird for others to hear you say that." Alastor said.


    "Sorry. Alastor, can I ask you to stay away from me at school?" Edward uttered.


    "What an odd request! Why?" Alastor, bored from the chat between the girls, turned to young Edward upon hearing the unusual request.


    "Tasha must have told you already. People...are not very king at school with me. They think I am a demon sympathiser. If you hang out with me, they may ...."


    "Bully me too? Is that what you want to say? Really now Edward? Remember what I have done until and look into my eyes! Do you think some brats who can barely use magic can stand up to me?" Alastor raised his voice.


    "No no that's not what I meant. It's just..."Edward mumbled.


    Alastor understood what Edward was trying to say. He was only worried about involving Alastor and the others. He understood it but he didn't like it. Not because Edward was underestimating him but because Edward did not ask for his help. Within the short time with the young noble, Alastor has felt a certain fondness toward the boy. Perhaps because he could be considered his first friend in his entire life.


    "You and I are going to be just fine!" smiled Alastor.




    On arrival at the school's gate, the group separated from Edward and followed the newly admitted students to the gathering place where the exam would take place.


    Inside the immense amphitheater, all the students have formed into two lines. At the head of each was a teacher from the school, asking each student to come forward for their evaluation.


    "Next, Ikarus and Stella! Please come forward and put your hands on this crystal!"


    When the two girls came up on the scene, the auditorium was filled with whispers.


    "Wow! Two incredible beauties!"

    "Are they some kind of royalties or something?"

    "Hey dude, you think I have a chance ?"


    Not just the students, but also the two examiners could not hide their excitement once they finished their evaluation.


    "Two Dominus!!! Do you realize what this means? I thought the crystal would break the moment they touch them. In my entire life I have never seen any first year student above Sapius. And now two Dominus on the same day!!! And we have barely started. I think this year will be quite fruitful professor Logan." said the female teacher.


    "Indeed professor Frith! One with expert level in two elements. The other one has soul magic. Where the hell do these kids come from?" the male teacher could not believe in what the crystal was showing him.


    But they quickly quelled their emotion as there were still many others students waiting.


    "Anyway let's continue! Next Alastor! Please come forward!"


    The young boy slowly walked to the front. The lines were composed of students of all different age. This was because there was no age restriction in Helios. People were free to join the Academy at any stage of their life. Also there was no fixed number of years of studies. A student may spend one year or ten years at the Academy until they reached the level they desired.


    While Alastor didn't want any unnecessary attention, he must made an impression if he ever wanted to approach the prince. Apparently he was considered a genius among his peers. And there were rumors about how the prince was prolonging his stay at Helios to recruit capable followers so he could increase his influence against the Archduke. This meant that by playing the cards right, the prince would come to Alastor himself without needing to do anything.


    Alastor raised his arms and touched the mana stone. Infusing your mana into one such stone would make it illuminated. The brighter the light the stronger the individual. But as soon as Alastor touched it, the stone beamed brightly and shattered. The once noisy room now was silent.


    "It broke....he broke the stone!!! Imperatus? Or Phaedrus? or you think?" the female teacher shouted with astonishment.


    "Can't be! Calm yourself Frith! You, inform the headmaster! Quick!" the male professor yelled at a senior student who was there to help."As for you young man, please come with us!"


    'It seems I overdid a bit!' Alastor thought before being dragged away.

    .....

    .....

    .....


    Alastor was now inside a room together with the two examiners. There were old books lying around everywhere, some covered by layers of dust. Behind a large wooden desk, an old man was standing looking out the window. He turned back and observed the young boy carefully. He made a gesture telling the teachers to go out being turning back to Alastor.


    "Greetings young man! My name is Ganon, headmaster of Helios Academy. I heard that you caused some ruckus during this morning entrance exam." the old man brought out the broken pieces of the crystal Alastor touched earlier. "Do you realize what you have done?"


    But Alastor feigned ignorance.


    "Mana crystal like this one has many applications. One of them is to evaluate the level of the holder by simply infusing mana into it. But the one used for the entrance exam has a limit. Are you familiar with Helios ability rank?" Ganon continued.


    Alastor just turned his head.


    "Everyone inside Helios, including the students and the staff, is ranked according to their power level. From weakest to strongest:

    - Discipulus

    - Peritus

    - Sapius

    - Dominus

    - Imperatus

    - Phaedrus

    - Deus


    This system allows us to group up people with the same level for them to facilitate the studies. Now because the entrance exam usually has students who have barely discovered magic, the crystal can only measure up to Dominus rank. Anything above that will overcharge the crystal and break it, like you did.


    Unfortunately we currently have no crystals capable beyond that. This makes ranking you a bit difficult. But since you are still young, I think it would be best to assume your rank as Imperatus. Because honestly there is no class beyond Imperatus, simply because there are no students reaching those ranks yet."


    "No one at this school is above Imperatus? Kind of disappointing to have those ranks if there is no one for it no?" Alastor asked.


    "Now now I never said that. No students yes but there are still members of the staff. Well not most of them are but for example myself is rank Deus." Ganon said.


    "Does it mean you are the strongest in this country?"


    "Hohoho! I sure hope so. But no! When compared to the Guild rank system for example, I would be an S-rank. But even among S-ranks there are different levels. Not all of them are equal. Let's say I am in the top tier but not THE best.


    As for Helios ranking system, this hierarchy is strictly unique to Helios. However I can assure you that our rank is not just for show. If you are a Dominus or above, you already have the qualification to be a commander of your own squad in the royal army. I think I don't need to explain for the rest." Ganon showed a proud face on his face.


    It was no coincidence that his school has produced so many talents and now it seemed a genius has once again appeared. He must have him. That would ensure Helios reputation even more.


    "Anyway I am sure you will enjoy being in this class. If you are lucky you might be acquainted with the prince of Ceadric!" Ganon added.


    "The prince is also in my class?" Ganon finally caught Alastor's attention.


    "Of course! He is one of the best students at Helios after all. He may be a bit older than you but I am sure you could be friends!"


    "If that's what you say. Alright I am just a kid so I should follow what my elders tell me to." Alastor said.


    "Just a kid you say....the least I can tell is that you are already stronger than most of the people in the school. Who are you really?" the headmaster pressed the question.


    "The demon lord"


    "Hahaha! You sure have a sense of humor. It's fine if you don't want to tell me. Everyone got a secret or two. Anyway it's late but welcome to Helios Academy young Alastor!"




    * * *




    Alastor's POV



    After the meeting with the headmaster, I was guided to my classroom by one of his aide. On the way, the teacher gave me a badge to pin on our coat. It showed our rank for easier recognition and certain areas in the school were reserved or prioritized for advanced students only.


    As expected of the prominent class of the school, it was filled with big shots: nobles, royalties. All were relatives of someone influential in the world. Perhaps beside the prince, I should make a few connections here and there.


    "Everyone, starting from today, Mr. Alastor will be joining our class. He is still young so I hope you can guide him along the way and treat him with respect, as you do with everyone else. Alastor, we have reserved a seat for you at the front. Please go to your seat!" the female teacher presented me to the class. If I remembered correctly, her name was Frith.


    I went to the empty seat on the first row to the left. Next to me sat a young man in his twenties. He had short brown hair and black eyes. The moment I sat down, he extended his hand to greet me.


    "Hello there! The name is Colin. Nice to meet you!" the young man said.


    "Likewise! I am Alastor!" I said to him.


    "Wow you really are tiny. How old are you?" Colin looked curiously at me.


    "Eleven." I answered


    "You must be a genius then. I have been here since your age but I started with the Peritus rank. How did you do it?"


    "Just some usual home studies that's all."


    "Really? At any case please ask me anything if you have a question!"


    "About that, I heard that we have a prince is in our class. Which one is he?" I asked Colin.


    "You mean prince Charles of Ceadric? Yes he is in this class but he is not in today. I heard he is busy going around recruiting people in their final year at Helios so they could join the royal guard or army of Ceadric. The teachers don't really mind since he has already finished his curriculum a few months ago and soon he will be crown as the next king of Ceadric." explained Colin.


    "I see. Thanks for the help!"


    "Anytime buddy!"


    .....

    .....

    .....


    After the first few days at school I observed that there were very few Zagonians were in the school. I remembered Mephisto talking about the building tension between Zagon and Ceadric but I thought since Helios was outside of both countries' jurisdiction, it would not affect this.


    But this should not be my immediate concern. I still could not find the prince or rather the prince still did not come finding me. Perhaps he was too busy to even hear about me. Looks like I had to create an even bigger uproar.


    Anyway this school was really big, almost like a small city outside Cedra. After the first day, when I moved to the dorm, I learnt that I would have a room for myself and it was right next to Edward's. As for Stella and Ikarus, they seemed to have been even more famous than me thanks to their charm. Many boys have tried their chance only to have their dreams broken almost immediately when Stella said that she was mine. When I saw the broken heart boys looking at me jealously, I could not keep it to myself. This feeling of superiority! Their bitterness against me! How wonderful! I really was a sadist.


    "Hey you little brat! Come over here!" a voice shrieked from behind.


    I turned back, only to see three guys older than me. I pointed at myself to see if they were talking to me.


    "Yes you. Come here!" the big guy in the middle said.


    "If you want to talk to me, isn't good manners to come to me instead of me coming to you?" I said to him.


    "Don't you dare be a smart ass in front of me! I don't know how you did it but I don't believe in a second that you really are an Imperatus. You trick everyone to think you are so great. You even trick Miss Stella!"


    Oh dear, so this was all about Stella. So this guy was a broken soul who sought revenge against me.


    "Really now? You call me for this? Don't you have better things to do than bullying kids?" I said to them.


    "Take this you little rascal!"


    The big guy hit the ground with both of his hands but with a single side-step I avoided the attack.


    "Not done yet!" the guy shouted.


    From the ground, sharp rocks shot out toward me. With a single stomp of my feet, I raised an earth wall to protect myself.


    "He can use earth magic. Use wind!" the big guy called the second one.


    The second guy chanted his spell and made several invisible wind slashes. But his aim was a little off so a few nearby trees was cut down. He cast the spell again and this time it was absorbed by my hand. I made sure that no one saw the black hole on my hand. From afar it was as if the spell simply vanished mid-way.


    "You miss again idiot?" the big guy shouted in anger.


    "No I swear it hit him"


    "The hell it did. Look at him! Does he look like injured to you?"


    These idiots. Now that I looked more carefully. They had the Dominus badge. So in same level as Ikarus and Stella. Of course I told Ikarus and Stella to purposely drop their level down to avoid too much attention. Three Imperatus enrolled at the same time? Imagine what would happen and it would be too suspicious.


    Seeing how their magic did not work so well, the three brought out their swords. Did the school really allow students to bring weapons on its premises ?


    "What is going on here?" a voice interrupted.


    It was Ikarus, followed by Stella behind.


    "Miss Stella and miss Ikarus! Hi..." the idiot trio quickly hided their weapons and greeted the girls.


    "What are you doing?" asked Stella.


    "Just....hanging around....nothing special!" two of the guys tried to change the subject. But unfortunately for them, their leader did not think the same.


    "Miss Stella, you are just being tricked by this piece of shit. Don't let that scoundrel fool you!" the big idiot accused me.


    "What did you say?" Stella changed her tone. I could see her clenching her fists. That did not look good.


    "I just...." the moron continued but before he could speak, his neck was grasped. The seemingly harmless girl now held someone bigger than her on air so easily. She brought down his face to hers before stamping him down, making a crack on the ground.


    "YOU. DON'T. FUCKING. SPEAK. TO. HIM. LIKE. THAT. YOU. SCUM!!!" each word followed by a blow to the face. Everyone, including me, was stunning by the sudden change of personality in Stella.


    "STELLA STOP!" as if my words have awaken her from her anger, Stella stood up and looked at the mess she has done. The guy was beaten to a pulp, his face unrecognizable because of all the blood and the swelling. Stella's white gloves has been drenched in blood.


    I took her hands and looked at her face. It was always difficult to tell her expression but I could the disbelief in her eyes. She herself did not know she was capable of such a thing.


    To make matter worse, here came the teachers. At first they accused me of bullying the others three but thankfully Ikarus and a few others students have explained to them that it was the trio who came to me first. Thankfully what Stella was considered as self defense so she would not be temporarily suspended like the others three.


    That night I had a little talk with Stella.


    "Stella are you okay?"


    "I am fine. I apologize for making you worry about me Alastor!" she gave me a forced smile.


    "How many times have I told you Stella? We are family. We stick together and we help each other unconditionally. That's what family is for. So don't ever say things like that again."


    "I am sor....I understand."


    "Do you want to talk about it?" I asked her.


    "I don't really know why. When I heard him saying that to you, something inside me made me .....agitated. Is this what they called anger?"


    "Even so don't you think it was a bit over line? It's not like I was in danger or anything. But I guess if someone say something like that about you, I am not sure I would be able to hold back." I confessed.


    "Somehow hearing that makes me...happy." she finally smiled, and this time genuinely.


    I pat her head. Her hair really was silky. I knew her body was a doll but this just felt too real. With that, we spent the night watching the pale moonlight brightening the dark sky.


    "I wonder what Alice has been up to lately. I should speak with her tomorrow."
     
  17. necrophedius

    necrophedius Member

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    Chapter 15: Alice in Spiderland



    At the demon lord's castle on Ragna



    The four royal guards and Noroeth were currently having a meeting inside the main chamber.


    "Things are getting complicated. Aside from our own clans, the fours others have declared their separation. Two of them are already prepared for war against Mara." Azureus announced.


    "It's true. My scouts have detected large movement in the South. If we don't do something quick, the Arachnids will launch an attack on Ceadric in a few days. We are not ready for a all-out war yet. But these idiots don't know when to quit!" Mephisto complained.


    "Then how about we go deal it ourself? No need to use our own troops, only send a small group of elites." Naberius proposed. He was bored staying at the castle all the time. Now was the chance to finally move some muscles.


    "I also want to solve this quietly Naberius. But we are talking about an army here. And you know those Arachnids will just go crazy if we kill the queen. Remember that she is one of the oldest demon in Ragna. It won't be that easy to get her." Amelia analyzed.


    "At any case we can't let them attack Ceadric. Not yet anyway. Where is Alastor anyway? If he took the sea route then he should be in Ceadric. Mephisto, do you know where he is?" Noroeth said.


    "Unfortunately no! He made me promise not to send any scouts after him so I did not. I wonder where he is right now." Mephisto confessed.


    "Helios" a young voice replied.


    The five turned to the source of the voice, right next to Naberius. Without anyone noticing, little Alice has sneaked up into the room, nibbling a small cake on her hands.


    "What did you say?" Mephisto asked.


    "Helios Academy. He is there to investigate about the attack on the village." Alice continued to eat her cake.


    "How do you even know?" Noroeth inquired surprisingly.


    "It's a secret. Hihi!" the little girl giggled.


    "Hum! Where he is is not the main concern now. Right now we need to deal with this invasion issue first!" Mephisto interrupted.


    "Me me! I can go!" the girl yelled out, raising her hand high above her hand.


    "Wait what! What can you do?" Amelia and Mephisto raised their voice. Now it was not time for joke.


    "Hold on a minute! I agree that she should go. With me!" proclaimed the beastman.


    "Are you crazy? She is just a kid." Noroeth emphasized.


    "So is Alastor. But look at him now! And I have taught Alice for a long time now. Alastor was good but Alice is a genius in melee combat. And you know how strong she is. Trust me in this!


    Alice go pack your things! I will go by your room when we are done!" the old wolf insisted.


    "Ok uncle Nab!" she ran out excitingly without closing the door.


    .....

    .....

    .....


    Naberius was on his way to Alice's chamber. Just before knocking on her door, he heard her voice talking and decided to snoop,


    "I am finally going out! What should I wear?"


    "Whatever you want"


    "If I do something good, brother will be proud of me right?"


    "Of course he will!"


    "I have to get stronger enough to protect him."


    "Yes you are!"


    All Naberius heard was Alice talking to herself. He grinned at how innocent the girl was and how childish she was.


    "How nice to be young!" he thought out loud.


    .....

    .....

    .....


    "So where are we going?" the two were now in the forest south of the castle.


    "You don't even know where you are going and you just volunteer like that?" asked Naberius.


    "...Is that bad?"


    "Nope. I like it! Just like my style!" The wolfman grinned "We are going to the Spider Den, where one of the eight dominant clans of demon lived on Ragna. Long story short, we remind them who is the boss here. But we should avoid killing the queen as she is the only one who can keep them in check. If she dies, the rest will go berserk, which is what we are trying to avoid." Naberius said.


    "Okay I can do it!" the little girl joyfully answered.


    To shorten the journey, Naberius had Alice on his shoulder and dashed through the forest. In just a few hours, they were standing in front of the cave entraNce.They entered the cave together with Alice holding a great sword, fidgeting following behind.


    The cave walls was covered by a thick layer of web. Alice could see some little spiders hiding among the web but they should not pose any risk to them so they let them alone, while still staying aware of their surroundings.


    After a while, they stumbled across an enormous chamber. What was unsettling was actually inside. Thousands of spiders at the size of a grown man were parading around in formation. On the ceiling, on the wall, on the ground, everywhere. The whole room was filled with spiders. And Naberius found several rooms just like that. Luckily the tunnel they were in only passed through the room on the high ground, almost like a window peeking at the swarm of insects down there.


    "This is worse than I thought! Alice try to stay quiet! We can't deal with this much on our own" he murmured.


    Alice covered her mouth with her hand and nodded in agreement. But then.


    "STOP RIGHT THERE!" an inhuman voice echoed from inside, stopping Naberius and Alice on their track.


    They looked at the origin of the voice: a giant spider with eight eyes.


    "Who dares trespass the Queen's domain? State your name and business or face the wrath of her Highness' elite guard!" the spider threatened, showing its large claws.


    But it did not receive the answer it expected. Instead of a surrender from the stranger, an axe was coming in its direction. Nevertheless, thanks to its quick sense, the spider jumped back, avoiding the attack. It then spitted web attaching to the axe and tried to pull the axe away from Naberius. Though the beastman was at a disadvantageous situation because of the cramped cave tunnel making him unable to swing the axe freely, he still was able to use his brute force and pulled the axe toward him. The insect had to use all his strength just to stay fixed on his position. What it forgot was the little girl accompanying the beastman. But what could a small girl like her do in ? Surely nothing much.


    But it realized it could not be more wrong. While it was occupied with the axe, the girl swung her great sword, decapitating the creature. Its body moved in a uncontrollable state before succumbing to the wound and fell down. But the body dropped into the room, warning all the others spiders of the presence of intruders above.


    "Shit! Run!" Naberius yelled.


    The two tried to run back to the entrance. However they could hear footsteps echoing from there, hundred of them were coming their way. Now they had no choice but to go further into the maze.


    Eventually they ran into a dead end. Naberius prepared himself for a final stand.


    "Be ready Alice! ....Alice?" but the girl was nowhere to be found. When he looked around carefully, he spotted a small hole on the wall with a pair of small legs quickly disappeared into it.


    "Alice come back here right now! Alice!!!" but there was no answer. But he did not have time to worry about the little girl. Hundreds of giants spiders were now blocking his way and the only way to find Alice was to pass through them.


    They said people became desperate when pushed into corners. Even so for monsters. So what would a half man half beast do in this predicament? One simple answer: he kills. Naberius entered a berserk state. "GET OUT OF MY WAY!" he shouted as he started slaughtering everything on his path. His screams echoed in the entire cave, alerting even more spiders to come.


    Not far from there, only a couple of walls from Naberius, Alice has managed to come out of the gap and was now inside another large chamber. But this one seemed different. There was no spiders there. Not a single one. The room was dark but there were a gap on the ceiling to let the moonlight in. One step into the room could make a veteran pass out. The malice emitting from inside, the bloodlust filling the air, fear, resentment. All came from a entity hiding inside. The spider queen.


    From the shadows, eight bright dots gleamed as a figure walked out. But it was no human, or not anymore. A ghastly creature with the upper body of a woman and the lower body of an enormous spider. Her eights shiny eyes glowed in the dark. With her pale skin and red lips, she looked strangely alluring, despite the razor-sharp spiders legs on her back, not for walking but for stabbing her victims.


    "Who are you little one?" the queen asked the girl in front of her.


    "Alice! I am Alice! Who are you miss?" said Alice joyfully. She stared at the queen but she was not afraid. Rather she was curious of her strange appearance.


    "Me? My name...what was it? It has been far too long. I have forgot about it. They usually just refere me as Empress of the Depths, or the Arachnid Queen." the Queen gave a sorrowful look as if she was reminiscing about her past. Then she continued "Come closer child!"


    Alice slowly walked toward the queen. As she approached her, the spider lifted her spiky hands and touched Alice's cheeks.


    "So young! So innocent! ....so fragile!!!" suddenly the woman started to strangle the little girl, lifting her onto the air. "Do you know what it feels like? To have your children slaughtered by those scums above? Of course you don't. But no matter. If they take my children away, I will take theirs! Don't struggle my child! It will be over in a second! So DIE!"


    Despite her incredible strength Alice was no match for the spider's fortitude. All she could do was struggle while gasping for breath. Eventually her vitality ran out. Her body now hanged motionless from the queen's hand.


    "Pitiful child!" the spider woman carefully placed Alice between her arms before entangled her body inside a pouch made of web and hanged it on the wall. "Your body shall be nourishment for my children!" said the queen before turning away.


    But only a few steps away and she could feel something behind her. She turned her head back, only to see it started glowing red before something sharp pierced the pouch from inside and cut it in half, releasing Alice. The little girl, who appeared lifeless a moment ago, now held a burning hot sword too big for her size.


    "Ragnarok!!!" the queen screamed as she saw the weapon Alice was holding. She knew it too well. "Where did you get it? Where?" she screamed at the girl.


    "Come and I will tell you!"


    .....

    .....

    .....


    Naberius continued his rampage across the entire maze of spiders. To see where he has been going for the last few hours, just follow the trail of dead spiders. But now his movements have become a bit sluggish. He ran out of stamina. It did not matter how powerful he was, fighting non-stop by himself against hundreds of enemies has left him exhauted. Now once again he found himself in a corner.


    "Is this where I die? No!!! I have to keep going. I have to find Alice. I have to...." but he could not even finish what he said. He needed to catch his breath. His visions have became blurry due to the poison from the spiders despite his natural poison resistance but everything had its limits and he has reached his.


    Suddenly Naberius could hear an inhuman scream echoing across the maze. This one was different from the spiders he encountered. As the spider heard the screams, they started to lower their claws. They were no longer hostile.


    Naberius could not understand. A moment ago they were out for his blood and now just like that they would let him go. As he walked toward the spider while still maintaing his guards, the insects separated into two lines, making way for the beastman.


    Finally he stumbled across a giant chamber. This one was different as it belonged to the Spider Queen but he paid no heeds for such details. All he could see was little Alice inside, standing next to the Queen herself.


    "Alice! Get away from that woman!" Naberius shouted and took out his weapon, preparing for battle.


    "Wait wait uncle Nab! She is fine! She promised that she won't trouble us no more! Isn't that right Archna?" the girl said and turned toward the Queen.


    "It's correct! I apologize for my indiscretion and for all the troubles I have caused.I will recall my troops and await orders from king Alastor!" the Queen humbly answered.


    "What ? Archna? What the hell happened when I was gone?" Naberius was confused.


    "We just had a little talk and find some common grounds. That's all, uncle Nab! Now let's go home!" Alice dragged an hesitated Naberius toward the exit. "Goodbye Archna! I will visit again!"


    "Have a nice trip, lady Alice!" Archna bowed toward Alice.
     
  18. necrophedius

    necrophedius Member

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    Chapter 16: Enemy of our enemy is our friend



    Alastor's POV



    "Still nothing!" I grunted while lying down on the grass in the middle of the campus.


    "You have to be patient Alastor" said Ikarus sitting next to me.


    "It has been one month already ever since we came here. Do you know how many of you two admirers did I have to beat?"


    "That's why I decided that it would be better if I stick around you. They won't harass you as long as we are around." as Ikarus explained her reason for following me for the last three days, Stella nodded in agreement. It was true that ever since they decided to tag along, there have been no attacks. But I got a strange feeling of someone stalking me since I beat that trio on the school ground. So I did a little inspection.


    Lucky for me, the guy was only a Sapius, weak enough to be possesses by <Absolute Authority>. Taking control over the poor guy and making him spill everything. Apparently he was under the order of Charles to tail me and investigate if I was affiliated with the archduke.


    How could I have overlooked this? Three powerful individuals enrolling at Helios at the same time, right during the conflict between the Prince and the Archduke. If I was Charles, I would definitely suspect that these three were sent by the other party either to spy or to assassinate me.


    And since a few spies have already uncovered by the Prince, it would not be weird to find more of them. But that was not the problem right now. What I needed to do was to gain the prince's trust. Time for some direct approach!





    * * *




    Charles' POV



    It has been several days since I sent one of my men to observe the three new students. When I first heard of a first year Imperatus, I thought it was just a mistake from the examiners or the crystal was broken. But when I saw how he defeated those three Dominus with ease in the courtyard, I realized he was a genuine gem.


    Voiceless incantation, the ability to cast magic without needing to speak out the spell. Just how many people in the world was able to do it? And that thing he did to the wind blade. How did he do it? The aim was accurate but it just disappeared when it reached his hand. Magic Cancel? I remembered something like that but only in tales from eons ago.


    Nonetheless I wanted to recruit him to my side. With someone of his caliber by me, I would be able to ascertain my ascend to the throne.


    Aside from Alastor, there were two other girls who were recently admitted to Dominus. But from their interaction, I could tell that they knew each other before entering Helios. Three powerful magic users entering Helios was too suspicious no matter how you looked at it. That was why I sent a few people I trusted to watch them, to know what their objectives were.


    Anyway they were supposed to be back by now to give me their daily report. Why has none shown up so far?


    "Lindzie, when was the last time you heard from Helmund and the others?" I asked the girl next to me. Lindzie was my childhood friend and the person I trusted most in the entire world.


    "Since early this morning just before they left. Do you think something happened to them?" said Lindzie.


    "It couldn't be. Attacking our people would be like admitting that they were the Archduke's men at this point. Anyway we should check it out." I said.


    "You cannot!!!" the girl shouted as she hit the table "You know you are to remain here for two more weeks until the coronation in two weeks. The headmaster was kind enough for lending us this secret room. No one would be able to detect you here.


    Please Charles! I am worried about the others too but if there is even a slight chance that you get attacked out there, I would not let you go!"


    "And what am I supposed to do? Sitting around here, leaving my friends behind ? A king who abandons his people is no king! I won't become that kind of king. I don't want that." I yelled.


    "It's not up to you anymore! Think about your sister! What would she do if you are gone? We have all pledged our loyalties to you. Helmund and the others, including me, understood the risk but we did it for you. If you die right now, our sacrifice would be for nothing. Think about it Charles!"


    "God damn it!" I clenched my fist as hard as I could. I have already lost a few of my close friends because of this conflict. If Helmund too.... What kind of king was I?


    Suddenly I heard some kind of commotion outside. Lindzie immediately took out her staff, preparing herself. Finally the door bursted open.


    A young boy walked in with two young women beside him.


    "So this is what lies behind the magic wall. Still need some few upgrades here and there though." the boy said, looking around the room. It was Alastor and the others Dominus.


    "So you finally show your true face! What did you do to Helmund and the others?" I clamored.


    "No need to be alarmed prince Charles! I come in peace!" the boy looked back at the door where the two bodyguards lay down on the ground. "Well at least that's my intention. For the record, they were the ones who attacked me first. And if you are talking about the beastman stalking me, I put him right outside the building. The guy ought to hide himself better. Rest assured! None of them are harmed!


    But still your Majesty! Am I not the victim here? Sending guys following girls around...that's not very gentlemanly of you. In case you are wondering, no I am not associated anyway to the Archduke." the boy explained.


    "How can we trust you after what you have done?" Lindzie shouted.


    "Because if I am on the archduke' side, you would be dead the moment that door opened. That should be convincing enough don't you think?"


    "YOU!!!"


    "Stay down Lindzie!" I ordered Lindzie."He is right! If he wanted to kill us he would have done it by now."


    "What are you talking about Charles? It's still just one Imperatus and two Dominus." asked Lindzie.


    "No...he is a Deus. As for the girls...Imperatus at the very least but still more powerful than me." I muttered in disbelief. I was proud of myself for able to gauge people's abilities just by looking at them. It was not mana sense or something like that. More like a hunch. But what I sensed from the boy and the two girls right now was completely different from the other day. I did not want to admit it but his aura terrified me. Every inch of my body was screaming at me to run away. It took all of my willpower just to retain my calmness.


    "That can't be..." Lindzie said in disbelief.


    "If you don't want to kill me, then what do you want? Surely someone like you has nothing to want from this Academy. Just who are you anyway? I have never heard of you before. And I have my own intelligence network." I asked the boy.


    "You and I share the same enemy, prince Charles: overthrow the Archduke." he said.


    "What do you have against the duke?"


    "He once took something precious away from me. And I will make sure that he will pay for it! But I am not here to talk about me, dear Prince. It's about you and your crown. On my way here, I have spotted a few rats watching this area and they were definitely not your men. Which means that they belong to the other party. Consider this a token of our good will!"


    The boy took out a knife which made Lindzie nervous all of the sudden but he held it by the blade and shown me the handle. On it was imprinted a crest: the archduke's crest. He also gave me a scroll which clearly indicated that it was the duke who was responsible for the attacks of those frontier villages. For the last year, the Archduke has been convincing people of the court that the monsters and demons were responsible and asked for a joint crusade against Ragna with the other nations. So it was all just a cover up for his maniac incursion. But why? There was nothing to gain from attacking those villages. It was too risky. For what reasons could push him to go this far?


    Nonetheless now it was not the time for this. With these evidences, I could prove to the Council of the Archduke's crimes.


    "Charles, I don't know if we can trust these people... " Lindzie hesitantly said.


    "It's alright Lindzie! So what will be the terms?" I turned to the boy.


    "In two weeks, you will be going to be crown at the royal palace. On that day the Archduke will be there for the ceremony. I want you to bring me with you on that day. In return I will make sure that you will live till that day. Do we have a deal your Majesty?" inquired Alastor. He extended his arm toward me.


    "I feel like I am making a deal with the devil here. But it's not like I have another choice. You have a deal!"


    We shook hands, sealing our partnership for now. I felt like I was being used but I would make sure that I would not be the only one.



    * * *



    "It seems our little demon lord has been busy these days!" a lady in a black attire said as she looked at the boy from afar. "Can you see it from here Scarlet?"


    "Unfortunately not milady! I need to be right in front of him for my eyes to check if he has it." an disembodied voice spoke from behind the white haired woman.


    "Too bad then! But it doesn't matter. We will continue as always. Or do you think it might hinder our plan?" asked the woman.


    "I cannot say. We don't even know if he is the one responsible or just another victim. One thing for sure: every corpse I saw in the village where he was suffered the same affliction. And not just your normal kind of affliction you can find these days. But something rather ...primal. Someone or something powerful enough to do that, I would rather not face it." said the voice


    "Hum...what a strange conundrum! Anyway you should worry about it later! Right now we just need to focus on Terrick. He is our main target. We move on the coronation day!"


    "Why on that day exactly milady? Won't there be more guards on that day?"


    "Only inside the palace. And I believe little Alastor will do more than just talk with the Archduke." the silver haired lady grinned, watching her demon lord accompanying the prince on the school ground. "It would certainly be a lively ceremony!"



    * * *



    "Be patient Veldor! Getting angry is not going to help us now!" a man in a white priest garb said as he sipped the glass of wine he was holding.


    "How do you expect me to be patient in this kind of situation? We have lost contacts from all the men sent to Helios." an elderly man wearing a noble attire hit the ground with his cane.


    "So the prince found someone capable for himself. It would not matter. Just use what I have given you! You are getting senile, Archduke!" said the priest.


    "Don't you dare getting arrogant with me, Bishop Terrick! I may be old but I have been in this game of power long before you are even born! I know what's bad and what's not. And I can tell you that this is really bad for us!" shouted the old man.


    "Us ? You are the one who even failed to destroy a few villages." scolded Terrick.


    "Exactly what I am trying to tell you. The mercenaries are all dead for unknown reasons when they launched an attack last year. I recently learnt that the bandits I planted at that region also shared the same fate. These could not be a coincidence. Someone has been interfering with our plan. They... *COUGH* *COUGH*" the old man coughed heavily, trying to reach a potion on the table. After he drank it all in one sip, he took a deep breath and sit down on the chair on the opposite side of the table.


    "Doesn't look like you have much time left to hesitate either Veldor! In a few days the prince will be crown as the next king. That's your chance to take back what is rightfully yours. Think about it! You have served for two generations of kings. You understand most how the court works. And yet they are now letting a brat in charge of the whole kingdom. Don't you think it's a bit unfair?"


    "Yes...yes you are right!" the old man uttered with a short breath.


    The priest stood up and prepared to leave. As he fixed his clothes, he said.


    "Just tell your men to be ready! And don't screw up this time! In the next few days, you will be reborn as the new king of Ceadric." the priest laughed loudly.


    The old man, sitting on his chair, holding his cane, could see himself sitting on the throne. He deserved it. After all what he has done for the kingdom, it would be natural for him to claim it for himself. He made a soft grin of his old, wrinkled visage. He did not even has the strength to laugh anymore. Anyway he must rest, to prepare for his coronation.
     
  19. necrophedius

    necrophedius Member

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    Chapter 17: Coronation



    Coronation day - Royal Castle of Ceadric at the capital Cedra



    "So the day is finally here! You could not believe how long I waited for this." the prince looked at himself in the mirror. He was wearing a royal red tunic with white leggings. Lindzie was by his side, looking carefully any small details, wrinkles and such on the prince's outfit.


    "We all have your Majesty!" the human girl smiled at Charles.


    "Please Lindzie! Just stick with Charles as always! It's awkward to have you call me that." implied the Prince.


    "You are now a symbol of authority and respect. Although I am your childhood friend,.. No! Especially because I am your friend, I must show them that you are the king, my king." affirmed Lindzie.


    "You are more than just a friend to me Lindzie." said Charles.


    After a short moment of silence, the girl finally understood what the prince was implying. They were friends since birth and she was always the first to understand him. But perhaps now she wished she did not and could just ignore what he just said. Still she could not.


    "You Majesty....I... I don't know what to say!" Lindzie spoke haltingly.


    Her cheeks were now redden as she tried to turn her head away from the prince's gaze.


    "Wow! Out of all the time to confess, you just have to do it now! I never understand how royalties think." a young voice spoke.


    The voice, as if a bell rang to bring these two persons back to reality, reminded them that they were not alone in the room. On the couch sit the two girls and a young boy whom the prince recently recruited to their side. Perhaps 'recruit' is not the right word. It was more like a mutual interest between the two parties.


    Alastor turned to Helmund and the others who were also in the same.


    "Well at least the future of Ceadric seems to be ascertain." joked Alastor.


    "Not until we deal with Archduke Veldor!" proclaimed Helmund.


    "Today will be the most crucial day. It's his last chance to interfere with Charles. But honestly I don't see how he could it. Even if for some reasons, he managed to assassinate Charles, he still has no place to the throne. I just don't see why he would do this." Ikarus explained her anxiety.


    "You are right Ikarus! And there is the matter of the scroll I gave to you prince Charles! Why would he let such an important piece of evidence in the hands of a few bandits? And the spies we caught all have something that can be easily traced back to the Archduke. It's like he is intentionally trying to be caught. That just makes no sense.


    Whatever the case you have to be extra careful today. Me and Stella will be accompanying you by your side as your bodyguards. Ikarus will check from the sky area and she should have a clear vision of everything. Helmund, Lindzie and the others will be among the guests, making sure to root out possible threats.


    Charles, during the ceremony Veldor would be at his closest to you. Although I highly doubt that Veldor will dare to openly attack you in front of millions of people, you have to watch out for him. He might has some tricks up his sleeves." said Alastor.


    "Of course! And I want to thank you Alastor, for upholding your promises. Ceadric will forever remember your help. I will make sure of that!" said Charles. He slightly bowed his head to Alastor to express his gratitude for the boy who saved his lives so many times for the last few days.


    "No need to thank me, your Majesty! We have a common enemy and I merely give you my assistance. You just need to uphold your part: leave the Archduke to me!" exclaimed the boy.


    Then someone knocked on the door. "Your Majesty! It's time for the ceremony!"


    Now that everyone was ready, they began to move out. The prince walked out of the room, followed by Helmund and a few others guards. As Alastor stood up and began to leave, Lindzie held his hand back.


    "Alastor! I still don't trust you one bit. We know nothing about your past and where you even come from. But right now you are the only person who can protect Charles. So I ask you this: please protect him with all you can! Because if something happens to him, I will chase you down to the end of the world! Remember that!" affirmed the human girl.


    But Alastor did not answer. He simply smiled at the girl before moving out.


    .....

    .....

    .....


    The coronation took place inside the main court room, assembling all nobles from across the country. A grand extravagant red carpet lay in the middle of room, leading from the gate to the throne above the stairs. Two maidens in white walked through the grand hall, spreading rose petals as they passed by on the two sides. A young man walked right behind them with two of his guards, who were none other than Alastor and Stella with Alastor in a black attire and Stella in a white one.


    At the end of the path, an old man was holding the crown, standing right in front of the throne. He was a member of the Council of Ceadric who served as the personal advisors of the king. They were also in charge of ensuring the passing of the crown to the next king, following the last king's will and making sure that the true heir would be sitting on the throne.


    Beside them stood the Archduke Veldor. An old man who could barely stand up by himself with his cane. One look at him could tell that he was already one feet into the grave. What could he possibly want with a throne where he barely had a few months left to live? His eyes followed carefully as the prince walked up to the stairs toward the throne. The prince knelt down before the old man holding the crown.


    The old man carefully and slowly placed the crown on the prince's head. With it he proclaimed.


    "Sirs and Madams, I here present unto you: king CHARLES NOCTUGAL, First of his name. Wherefore all you who are come this day to do your homage and service. Are you willing to do the same?"


    Everyone inside the court shouted and clapped their hand in joy, showing their willingness and allegiance to the new King. The guards blew their trumpets, echoing the entire castle. This showed that the ceremony has gone without obstacle and a new king has been appointed. The people gathering outside the castle, the commoners screamed the name of their new king. A happy scene indeed. Until it was interrupted by an explosion inside the castle.


    A dagger was thrown toward Charles but it was caught by the hand of a child, Alastor. He quickly threw it back to where it came from, stabbing the neck of one of the assassin hiding among the crowd. Blood gushed out as he fell to the ground, dead.


    Several men in black jumped inside the court room. A few of the knights were stabbed in the back by one of their own. They were men of the Archduke disguised as the royal guards.


    The royal guards quickly ran to protect the Council and their King, separating them from the crowd. Some escaped immediately. Others stayed trying to find out what was going on.


    Chaos ruled the atmosphere inside the hall as the screams of joy were not replaced with fear and terror. Alastor quickly sent several orbs orbiting around the prince. These elemental orbs would provide him with protection against mages.


    "Today I will be the new king of Ceadric. Bring me the false king's head!" the Archduke shouted to his followers with all of his pitiful force, making everyone looking at him.


    "You dare!!!" roared the royal knights and the Council."Guards! Capture him!"


    But Veldor smashed the ground surrounding him with a single strike of his cane, breaking a portion of the floor and bringing down the knights with it.


    "None shall stop me!" he screamed as he raised his cane and cast another spell. This time it was a lightning spell in the form of a spear. He threw it toward the prince, only for it to be destroyed by the orb floating around. He tried a few others but none of them worked. Strangely he did not panic but simply grinned menacingly.


    Three assassins dashed toward Charles from three directions, drawing their blades. But they were easily stopped by Helmund and Lindzie. The third one was pierced in mid air by Stella and fell down on the floor. Seeing their comrades falling easily, the others assassins abandoned what they were doing and all targeted the Charles.


    As Lindzie and the others were keeping the prince inside a human barrier, Alastor simply stood there motionless. From an outsider's point of view, it could be misinterpreted as a child who was too scared to move from his position. But Alastor was no common child. What made him puzzled was the Archduke's actions. He did not expect him to do something this openly. And the assassins were too easy to deal with. Sure they might lose a few men and guards but none would be able to reach the prince. The duke surely must have learnt that by now considering he lost so many men at Helios. But then why?


    "Something is not right!" he mumbled to himself as he looked at the old Archduke.


    From his sleeves, the archduke brought out an old lantern with a blue flame inside.


    'What is that?' thought Alastor as he observed what that object was and why would the archduke bring it here? But his thought was interrupted by Stella.


    "Alastor! Stay away from that lantern! It will absorb your soul into it!" yelled the doll.


    "What? How do you know about it?" asked a confused Alastor.


    "There is no time to explain! Now we need to keep the prince away from it!" answered Stella after killing one of the assassin.


    At that moment, Alastor understood everything. Why the archduke did not even try to hide the evidences. Why he would dare attacking the prince in broad day light. It was all because of that lantern. The archduke was not after the prince's life. He was after the prince's body.


    The old man raised the lantern and pointed one side at himself and the other at the prince. Then he murmured: "<Soul Transfer>"


    A blue flame came out of the archduke. As the archduke's tiny flame fly toward the prince's body, someone pushed the newly appointed king out of the way. It was Alastor. He made a promise to protect Charles and a promise was a promise.


    As the flame entered him, both the Archduke and Alastor fell down unconscious.


    * * *




    Inside the Abyss



    "Where the hell am I?" an old man was lying on the ground, surrounded by a black mist.


    The archduke thought he was inside the prince. He thought he already succeeded his plan. But then he remembered that a boy has pushed the prince out of the way. Did this mean that he was now inside that boy? Then what the hell was this place?


    "Damn it! That brat dared interfering with my plan. I will make sure he never woke up again!" he grunted.


    An old man he might be, he was still a master of magic. He has done a lot of research on the soul for this plan to work. He has even tested the lantern on several servants to see how it worked.


    For every time, he just needed to find and destroy the soul of the body owner before he could take it over. And he could use the lantern again to come back to the original body.


    Although each person had a different space, usually he would just end up right in front of the victim' soul. However in this case he ended up in an unknown place with nothing in sight because of this black mist.


    "<Fly>" the old man floated in the air and decided to fly toward a direction. He started to lose his patience as it has been hours since he came here but still nothing. Then he saw someone coming toward him. It was a beastman in an armor. He was accompanied by several shadowy entities and a beautiful elf woman. Then they saw him.


    "Hum I don't recognize you from around here. Asmodeus you know who this guy is? He seems to be in his true form but I have never seen Alastor with him." asked the beastman.


    But a single glance from the woman and she changed her attitude. What seemed to be a graceful expression on her face previously now turned to a grim one.


    "No! He is not one of us! I know everyone Alastor met in this place. And he is definitely not one of them." the woman confirmed.


    The shadows looked curiously at the confused old man. Inside his head, he could not understand what was happening around him. First he ended up in a strange desolate place. Now there were creepy peoples all around him. Each of them had a terrifying aura, especially the woman.


    "Get him boys!" shouted Beelzebub.


    The shadows all dash toward the old man. Lucky for him, he managed to evade them in time by flying on air.


    "What the hell are those things? They are...dangerous. I must get away from here!"


    But to his disbelief, he now saw hundreds of shadows floating on the ground right under him, each with two shining eyes looking at him. And now they were flying toward him.


    <Ice Lance>

    <Dark Sphere>

    <Tundra Strike>

    <Hell Flame>

    <Lightning Roar>

    .....


    All kinds of different spell were targeting the poor old soul. If he did not receive an incredible boost from the lamp for his soul form, he would be dead by now. But then.


    <METEOR>


    A large burning rock fell from the sky and hit the ground. In an instant everything was blast away, including the shadows and the old man.


    "Nyx! Do you want to kill us too???" shouted Asmodeus at the wizard.


    "But you did not didn't you?" laughed the old sage.


    The archduke tried to stand up again. He was lightly injured since he cast a barrier in time and the explosion was far from his position. The shadows were now dispersed thanks to the blast. It was his chance to move.


    But now that he realized it. He was blast againt something. Something hard. But he could not see anything in front of him. Until he looked up. A shadowy dragon was staring down at him.


    "So we have a rat sneaking around here! Perhaps I should use my power!" the dragon grinned looking down on his tiny foe.


    "NOOO!" every shadow around screamed at Xenes.


    'A dragon. There is a freaking dragon in front of me' Veldor's thoughts started going wild at the mere sight of the beast. He tried to run away, only to find himself in front of a cliff.


    But he did not have a choice. Staying here would just get him killed. He could use <Fly> to reach of the bottom of this cliff. In any case, it could not be worse than staying here. And so he jumped down.


    "See ? Now he got away because of you!" Asmodeus said angrily.


    "No need to worry! Did you forget what is down there?" Nyx said calmly while brushing his long white beard.


    "Ah shit! Now I feel pity for the guy!" said Beelzebub.


    * * *



    After hours of free fall, the old duke finally reached the bottom of the cliff. Thanks to his spell, he managed to land safely on the ground.


    "What the hell was that? A defense mechanism of the soul? Could this boy be a Soul mage?" he asked himself, remembering the horror he saw above.


    To protect themselves from others soul mages, a soul mage often implanted several defensive spells inside his mind so the intruder would not be able to reach or interact with their soul. But the archduke has never heard of something like this, not at this scale: an army of shadows inside a realm of darkness.


    And again he found himself in another unknown place. The mist was even thicker down here. He could barely see what was in front of him.


    But then he found it. A giant gate in the middle of nowhere. This was what he was looking for. Every soul was protected, usually hided behind something in the form of a door. The door could not be opened in normal case but with the lantern, the passage was clear.


    He pushed it with all of his strength and the door opened a bit and shown a glance of what was inside. From the crack between the doors, he could see a giant bonfire, burning intensively in the middle of darkness.


    "Incredible! This boy' soul is huge!" but his joy was cut short sighted by a creaking sound.


    From behind him, the sound of armor clacking against each other could be heard, followed by the sound of something heavy being dragged on the ground. The old man could feel the chill on his spines.


    Fear. That was what best described what he was feeling at this time. Intense fear of death. He looked back and he saw the source of the strange sound: a walking armor with no face. Then it spoke to him in an inhuman voice.


    "You...do NOT... BELONG HERE!"


    The knight roared in a scream of anger as black smoke poured out of the faceless helmet. He sprinted toward the old man, continuing to drag his great sword on the ground. With a single lift of his arm, the old man was blast toward to sky. Luckily Veldor was able to remain on air thanks to his spell. But he did not escape unharmed. It seemed several of his bones were broken just from the hit.


    He could not take on this knight in close combat. Staying on air would be the best strategy against him. From above he cast several ice lances toward the knight. But the chevalier did not even try to defend or deflect the lances, he took it all on his body. His body, now pinned to the ground by the lance, was fulled of wholes. Yet he did not bleed. Only a black smoke was pouring out from the whole, accompanied by a painful and enraged growl.


    "<Immortal Body>" the knight murmured.


    The knight shook his body, breaking all the icy lances in an instant. The black smoke that came out of him now started to come back to his body.


    "What kind of monster are you???" shouted in terror Veldor. He continued bombarding the area with numerous spells but the knight just regenerated in the end.


    "Are you...done? Then die!" as he said, the knight raised his great sword above his head. The sword grew bigger and bigger before it became a twenty foot sword raising toward the sky made of darkness and gave a purple glow.


    Veldor could not believe what he was seeing. But this was no time to be amazed by your opponent. The sword now was much higher than where he was on air and it was starting to fall down on him. The old man cast a barrier to protect himself. Could he resist against this attack?


    As the sword collided against the barrier, an wave of dark explosion blast away everything around the old man. But he did not escape unharmed. The attack has pierced the barrier a bit and he was heavily injured by it. If not for his barrier, he would have been disintegrated by now. He lay half unconscious on the ground. All he could hear was the sound of foot steps and clacking armor coming closer to him. With his feeble hands, he tried to crawl away. But it did not last long.


    "The flame...must...go on!" the knight raised his great sword and stabbed the old man in his chest.


    "ARGHHH! It hurts!!!! It hurts!!!!" the archduke screamed in pain. But one could not simply die in soul form. The only way to get out was taking control of this body.


    Thanks to the lantern he could still stay alive but the pain was real and it stayed. But now because of it he was trapped in this place. Not even death could help him escape from here.


    The knight lifted his sword and placed it on his shoulder, still with the old man impaled on it, screaming in pain. He walked toward the door and fully opened it.


    The flame burned even more intensively. Perhaps it sensed that it was in danger.


    "You...are...safe now... little flame!" Said softly the knight. He turned back to the man impaled on his sword. The knight moved his sword right above the flame.


    The old man's robe started to catch the fire under him. The fire spread from his legs to his body. Now His entire body was on fire.


    "ARGHHHH! Hot Hot! It burns!" the old man screamed as his entire body was burned inside out. Even fire cam out of his mouth. He struggled as hard as he could to pull the sword out and it did not budge. He could not do anything but move his limbs aimlessly until there was nothing but the ashes left.


    "The flame...must..go on!"


    * * *



    "ALASTOR! Please wake up!"


    Alastor could hear something shouting at him. His vision was a bit blurry. But he could feel his body being heavily shaking by two beautiful girls.


    "Ah this must be paradise!" he mumbled with a grin on his face.


    "Stop joking around! You make us worry too much!" something wet dropped on his face. The celestial Ikarus was using all of her power to heal him but when it did not work she panicked and started crying. Now seeing him alive and well could not bring her a better joy.


    Stella was also by his side. Although she did not cry, perhaps because she was a doll, she showed a distressed expression on her face. She finally gave out a relief breath, seeing that her master was fine.


    "What happened?" Alastor asked.


    "Veldor tried to use the Anima Lantern on the prince to take over his body. But when you pushed Charles away, it hit you instead." Stella murmured to my ears. "I thought he took over your body but I guess a demon lord's body was too much for him".


    "How do you know about that lantern Stella?" Alastor asked. He remembered that the girl knew what that was even before the archduke used it.


    "It was one of the Artefacts father created. As one of his creations, I obviously know about it." Stella explained.


    "Father? Do you mean the Artificer?" Alastor emphasized. He knew the Artificer was responsible for the creation of many wonders in the world but this. This was something he did not know at all.


    "Yes. But it's not important right now. I have already taken in using the chaotic situation. We can have as much time as we want to study it later. But now we have some unfinished business." Stella pointed to a trembling old man hiding in the corner, surrounded by the royal knights.


    It seemed that ever since the Archduke awoke, he was screaming as if he was in pain. But no one could understand what he was talking about. Dragon, demons, shadows. Who could know what they were inside a mad man's mind.


    Alastor stood up. He still felt a little sore but it was manageable. Then someone came over to him.


    "Alastor! I am glad you are okay! When I saw you fell down, I thought it was it. But now look at you! Good as new!" said the now king of Ceadric Charles the First.


    "Your Majesty, I am fine as you can see. More importantly what about the Archduke? Did he spill something?" asked Alastor.


    "Yes. He wakes up before you so I have a little time to interrogate him. It was hard since the man seemed to be completely out of his mind right now but I managed to get a name: Terrick" answered the king.


    "Terrick? Who is that?"


    "A bishop who serves as the ambassador from the Church of Light in Cedra. I have also sent men to bring him in. You have nothing to worry about." reassured the king.


    "Please tell me where he lives. I will go there myself!" said Alastor.




    * * *



    Bishop Terrick' residence in Cedra



    A man in a white priest garb was running across his home. He wanted to destroy all the evidences that could possibly link him to the Archduke. As he rushed through all the documents, he continuously cursed the old Archduke.


    "Damn that bastard! My plan was perfect! I even gave him all the tools he needed. And yet he failed, miserably. And that damn brat! How dare you interfere?"


    Suddenly he could hear footsteps from outside the room. Could it be the royal guards were already here to catch him? No impossible. He left immediately after he saw that Veldor has been caught. They could not come here that quickly. But again judging from the footsteps, there was only one person outside. Why would only one guard come? Unless.


    The door slowly opened with the creaking sound of the old wood. A pale woman walked in. She wore a curious set of cloth: a leather attire in black with a long coat covering her legs, a tricorn hat and two swords, each on each side of her garb.


    Just a look at her made the priest gone grim completely.


    "Maria? Is that you?" Terrick said with a trembling voice.


    "Hello Father Terrick! It's so nice to see you again! How long has it been? Eleven years?" grinned maliciously the woman.


    "What... are you doing here? I thought you di..."


    "Died? I am hard to kill you know. Actually you should know. You make me this way Father!" the smile from Maria's face disappeared. Instead was an enraged look burning in her eyes.


    "You...demon!" Terrick continued to walk back until he was cornered by the desk behind him.


    "I wonder which of us is the real demon Father! But no more idle chatting. Tell me where he is! Now!" shouted Maria.


    "I...can't. I don't know where he is!"


    "Don't lie to me Father! If you tell me, I will make sure that your death will be painless. If not believe that I will make you regret the day you are born!"


    "I....I can't"


    "So be it!"


    From outside the room, the scream of a man could be heard throughout the entire mansion. The scream was filled with agony and pain. He knew he would not walk out of this place alive. When he could no longer endure it, he begged to be killed. But Maria would not give him that small wish. She made sure he would have a taste of what he has done to her.


    .....

    .....

    .....


    The sound of something being stabbed on the table repetitively. Again and again.


    "Milady..." a disembodied voice spoke.


    But the sound continued.


    "MILADY"


    "WHAT?" shouted Maria.


    "He is already dead a few minutes ago! Stabbing him won't do much now!"


    Maria looked at the mess in front of her. What was once a human could no longer be seen as one. Now it was just a pile of bloody flesh. She took a deep breath and exhaled heavily. She tried to find her calmness.


    "Fine! Did you find anything useful?" asked Maria.


    "A few documents linking the Bishop to the Archduke and...." Scarlet stopped mid sentence.


    "And what?" insisted Maria.


    "And this milady!" from the shadow Scarlet took form. It was a girl in her twenties with long dark hair. What was most usual about her was her left eye: it was red as blood. Unlike the other one which was simply black. She handed a parchment to Maria.


    As Maria read through it, she grinned her teeth in anger. When she finished it, she crushed the paper.


    "Those bastards! They are still doing it!" she raged.


    Maria looked back at Terrick's corpse on the desk, or what was left of it. She kicked down the table, venting her rage. But something fell from the corpse on the floor. It was a pendant. Scarlet looked at it curiously and took it.


    "An interesting pendant! It won't be useful for him now so might as well take it!" she said.


    Suddenly the two could hear the door at the entrance being smashed opened. As they walked out of the room in a hurry, the two finally met: Maria and Alastor.


    "Stop where you are!" shouted Alastor as he prepared an attack.


    When he saw Maria throwing something at him, he thought it was a bomb but it was only a scroll of paper.


    "That would help you. Consider it a gift from me!" Maria smiled at the boy.


    But Alastor did not pay attention to it. He ran toward the woman to catch her but when he did, the two women were covered by shadow before completely disappear.


    .....

    .....

    .....


    "That was close. I did not want for us to meet him so soon. Anyway did you take a good look at him Scarlet?" said Maria.


    Scarlet carefully touched her red eye as if she wanted to confirm something. Then she spoke


    "Yes. He also has it. The same as the villagers. The Curse of Memories!"
     
  20. necrophedius

    necrophedius Member

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    Chapter 18: The Children



    Alastor's POV



    It has been several days since Charles was crown as the new king of Ceadric. Because of the archduke's mutiny, the palace has been in disarray ever since. Charles has organized a big clean up to root out every last follower of the duke, interrogating every noble from the lowest to the highest.


    And there was the matter of Bishop Terrick. Thanks to the documents I received from that mysterious woman, we had proof that the priest was conspiring with Archduke Veldor against the crown by supplying him with men and weapons. It was clear that the two were the one behind the attacks of the frontiers villages, most likely because of Terrick. In return the bishop would help Veldor to become king of Ceadric.


    King Charles has demanded explanation and accused the Theocracy of Light for attempting to overthrow him, plunging Ceadric in chaos. But so far the Church has denied all involvement and stated that everything was caused by the Bishop alone. Unfortunately we did not have anything proof linking to the Church so that affair has been stuck at a dead end.


    As for me, I learnt from Asmodeus and the others that apparently Veldor did indeed show up in the Abyss but he most likely ended up being beaten to pulp by the mysterious knight for trespassing his territory. I have tried coming down there to thank him but the door was shut close. As usual.


    One thing was different though. I remembered that the first time I was here, on the gate was the image of a great tree divided into six branches, each leading to a circle. However now, under the tree, in one of its root, I saw a circle with the character "Slime" on it. It definitely was not there before. How did it get here? Then I recalled what Azureus gave me that day to unlock Devas' <Replica>. Could it be from that time? Did that mean that each time I consumed one of those Pure Bloodline Scions, it would affect this gate ?


    I should talk with Azureus next time I met him. For now there were more important matters at hands.


    "Stella you said that this Anima lantern was created by the Artificer right?" I asked Stella as I pointed to the lantern placed on the table. Together with Ikarus, we were in a room inside the palace. Charles has insisted that we should stay in the castle for now until everything would be clear up.


    "Yes. Father has always been interested in magical artefacts that allow even people with no magic potential to be able to use magic. The most potent are called the Tempus Machina. It's a collection of seven artefacts that are so powerful Father has to sealed them away because of their danger to the world.


    This Anima Lantern is one of them. Aside from the ability to transfer soul between beings, it allows the user to use a few unique soul magic spells. However..." Stella showed a reluctant expression.


    "The lantern requires souls to function. It must absorb souls of people before it can be used. The stronger the souls the more powerful the lantern can get."


    "What ? Then then that archduke has really killed several just to use this lantern?" Ikarus shouted in anger.


    "Not several. <Soul Transfer> is one of the most powerful abilities this thing has. But it cannot be used against someone that is too strong for the user. But there is another way: the user must compensate the difference in strength by absorbing more souls. Since king Charles is quite a capable man of level Imperatus and the lantern did work against Alastor even though it failed in the end, the Archduke must have killed hundreds at the very least!" Stella explained.


    "That bastard! Thanks God he was already executed!" Ikarus fumed.


    Tempus Machina. Era of machine. So there were still six left of these scattering in the world. Stella managed to take the Lantern without alarming anyone but I just got the feeling that there was more to this. Based on what Charles has told me, Veldor has been convincing the court to launch a crusade against Ragna to eradicate the demons. This was most likely what Terrick asked him to do. But why?


    "An invasion"


    "What? What are you talking about Alastor?" asked Ikarus.


    "They are planning an invasion against Ragna!" I said louder.


    "How do you know?" said Ikarus, surprised by what I just said.


    "The attacks on the villages. If the demons plan to invade Mara, they would have to pass through them.


    The problem is that so far there is no sign of the demon lord yet and the demons have been inactive for a decade so no one cared about them. Especially now when there are a lot of tension between all countries. It will take too much resources to invade Ragna.


    However by arranging the attacks to look like demons and monster' attacks, they are trying to pin the blame on the demons. These so called attacks would serve as an awakening call that the demon threat is still out there. This will give them the excuse to invade Ragna." I responded.


    "But why now? Didn't the demon lord die only a decade ago? Usually it took at least 100 years for another demon lord to appear! There is no need for another crusade!" said Ikarus.


    "No...it's precisely now that it must be done. The demon are weak after the death of the demon lord. Now it's no better time to eradicate them once and for all. I believe that this plan of theirs has been going on for years. To even have someone of the highest influence in Ceadric's court on their side...this is not your average organisation" I said.


    There was also the mysterious woman whom I met at Terrick's residence. Was she in cahoot with them? It could be that she came to take care of the bishop since he screw up. No! She gave me the proof I needed to link Terrick to the Archduke so perhaps she belonged to a third party. And seeing the abhorrent state his corpse was in, there seemed to be more than just a common murder. If she only wanted to shut him up, there was no need to do it that way. It took too much time. It looked to me more like there was a personal motive behind.


    Too much unknowns, I did not like this one bit. I needed to get some fresh air. Perhaps a tour in the city would do me some goods.


    I decided to go alone. For the time being I asked Stella to hold onto the lantern. She and Ikarus would go through again all the documents in Terrick's chamber. As for me, I was currently in the streets of Cedra. Though the palace has suffered some damages from the rebellion, the common folk of the capital seemed to be doing just fine. The market quarter was noisy as usual. I have been there a few times during my stay at Helios and it was always like this: prosperous and busy as ever.


    As I walked through different avenues, I stumbled across an impressive building.


    "So this is the Guild's headquarter in Ceadric. Since I am already here, might as well check it!"


    I opened the door to enter a big hall. Inside there were fours different reception desks. Near them was a tall board showing every available quest on it. I was familiar with the system on how the Guild worked. Take a request down from the board and register it from a reception desk. However most requests had a minimum level of requirement for the adventurers and only those with the appropriate rank could do it. It was a rule put in place to minimize the casualties, especially for newbies to avoid dangerous quests like high level monster slaying. From lowest to highest rank, F E D C B A S. So a B rank quest could only be accepted by B rank adventurers or above.


    As I looked through the abundant amount of posters on the board, I saw a curious poster.


    "Request: Need demon blood for making medicine. Please bring it to the apothecary at the southern outskirts at Cedra. One hundred gold coins for each vial."


    So much for only a vial? And why demon blood? I have never heard of any medicine that required demon blood. And who would take a medicine made from demon blood? Everyone avoided demons like plagues and demons sure as hell wouldn't take it.


    I took down the poster and brought it to the reception, placing it on the table.


    "Excuse me miss! Can I ask for some further information on this quest?" I asked her.


    "Oh you are so cute!" the woman patted on my head "But I am afraid this quest is a little to high level for you. You have to look for demon monsters lurking in the forest and they are usually quite dangerous, you know? What rank are you?"


    "I do not have a badge yet. Do I have to?" I faked innocence.


    "Of course you do dear! Normally you need to pass a small verification on your background first to make sure that you are eligible to do quest. Then a small test to determine your initial rank. As you do more quests, your rank will escalate." the plain lady said.


    "Oh... *hic hic*" I pretended to sob.


    "Oh oh don't cry! Just for a you I will give you a badge ok? A F badge should do since you are small. F ranks normally do delivery stuff so there is no danger for you. Here how about start with this quest? You just have to deliver a pack of supplies to the orphanage in the south of Cedra. It's right outside the southern gate."


    "Thanks pretty lady!" I smiled at her.


    Not really what I wanted but I guessed this should do.


    "Be careful! It's quite heavy!" said the lady.


    I took the large supplies bag with ease and off I went, leaving the reception lady and the adults around in shock. That apothecary should not be very far from the orphanage so after I finished this quest, I should visit there. Though I did not receive the quest, nothing would stop me to go there since I was not interested in the reward.


    To shorten the excursion, I jumped from roof to roof then tree to tree. It made the job so much easier. In just a matter of minutes, I was already outside. After a short walk, I arrived at the orphanage. Not a very impressive building, rather poorly built but I guessed it was good enough for these orphans to have something called home.


    I knocked on the door. A man in a white priest attire opened the door. Could the Church make a different uniform for once? They all looked exactly like each other except for their face and stature.


    "Hello! I am here to deliver the supplies you ask from the Guild." I said.


    "God bless you child! You must have come a long way! Please come in! I will make you a cup of tea!" the man bowed to me.


    The priest guided me to a large room with a lot of tables and seats. This should be where the children ate. As I took a sit and looked around, I spotted a few small heads poking out from the door looking at me curiously. While many looked human, some even had something like cat or fox ears. Could they be beastman?


    Then a few of them decided to come my way. They were around five or six years old.


    "Who are you?" one of the kids asked. She had a pair of black cat ears and a long black tail flinging around, showing her curiosity at me, someone whom she never met.


    "Don't bother the big brother Shana! He is our guest! Look at all the food he brought us here! Call the others! We will have dinner shortly!" The priest then turned to me " I know we don't have much but would you careto join us for dinner ...hum"


    "Alastor. Just call me Alastor. I am afraid I..." I wanted to refuse. This place made me feel a bit awkward. Perhaps because I sympathized with these orphans since I was similar to them?


    But the kid earlier, the girl Shana, pinched on my cloth and did not let go when I stood up. Looking at her reminded a bit of Alice, except if it was her, she would forcibly drag me to her own rhythm.


    "Why not? I will take you on your offer." I patted on Shana's head. She smiled at me with her eyes closed, her tail jiggling in excitement.


    Then the others kids started coming to me. There was at least about a dozen kids here: human, beastman and even a few elves. How did they end up here?


    "Most of these kids here used to be beggars in the city. Some were slaves who managed to escape. Others were abandoned by their own parents. But the Church welcomes everyone!" said the priest to me while the others kids were busy eating. Shana was still right beside me.


    The hall was filled with laughter and children talking to each other. A rather soothing atmosphere.


    We quickly finished dinner. The sun has already went down for a few hours so I needed to go back before Stella and Ikarus started to worry.


    "It's late so I think I need to go now! Don't want to make my family worry or anything!" I said to the priest.


    "Of course! Let me walk you to the door!" said the priest.


    As I stood up and walked to the door, the little cat girl called out.


    "Will you come back big bro?"


    "Of course I will!" I smiled at her.




    * * *




    Ikarus' POV



    Alastor has been a bit odd these early days. He sneaked out without telling us where he went and only came back late at the evening. Even more, he seemed to be more cheerful. I wanted to ask what he was on lately but I supposed if it made him happy we could let it slide. He, or rather all of us, have been through a lot so a nice break shouldn't any harm.


    While I did say that, I have been spending our days going through the documents at the bishop's house. The room was seriously messed up by that woman. Not just the shelves but all the blood on the floor. She really did ransack the whole place good.


    Nonetheless, there wasn't anything really worth mentioning. Most were about religious teachings of the Church. Such an hypocrite! Spouting words of Gods then planning betrayals, killing innocents lives.


    Yet there was one particular tome that caught my attention. I did not understand what was written in it but I felt a strange chill reading it.


    "

    Day 1



    We have gathered enough resources that we need. With this, the Orphans of Dark shall ascend.



    .....



    Day 20



    The test proves to be inconclusive. Subject 13 claimed to have heard voices in his head and something like water dropping before starting convulsing. Subject dies shortly a few hours after injection.



    .....



    Day 43



    Ten failures today. All subjects either died from the reaction or killed themselves to escape the pain.



    .....



    Day 157



    Another failure but we discovered a new type of reaction today. A few hours after injection, subject 47 began to mutate. We will call this reaction Metamorphosis. If only we could find what made this different from the previous subjects. Still this proves that we are one step closer to the Child of Dark. Unfortunately the subject was too hostile and attacked one of our staff so we had to put him down. At least his corpse might be useful for future experiments.



    .....



    Day 243



    The purity of the substance seems to have an effect on the subject. The more powerful the source and the more compatible it is to the subject, the better the chance to reach a better result. We need to switch to a more suitable source.



    .....



    Day 340



    Subject 100 showed great result today. She has already surpassed others with Metamorphosis. Perhaps we may discover a higher state. She just might be the Child of Dark.



    .....



    Day 489



    Maria was such a disappointment. Just another Orphan of Dark. She failed the final test miserably. I had Javis to put her back to her cell together with the others surviving failures. While she was not the end result we are looking for, she could still be useful for her talents.



    .....



    Day 501



    I have found another replacement, much more promising than subject 100. Perhaps this time it should work. No It must!



    .....



    Day 656



    The Child of Dark is ready for the ritual. Soon we will have God on our side, a living God in the flesh."



    That was the last entry. I tried to look for others tomes but nothing mentioned about what happened next. Just what was Terrick doing? It was so creepy everything that was written inside this journal.


    Orphan and Child of Dark. Those words just kept repeating itself. What exactly were they looking for? Who or what were the Orphans of Dark?
     

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