Ascension Rebirth – The correct decision
[Eternum Calendar 502]
As Sunday rolled around I found myself back at Lilith’s flower shop sipping tea and talking with Enrich. This place is more of a café than it is a florist.
These couple of days I found myself in little bit of a slump in regards to how my research was progressing. Actually it would be more apt to say that I’ve reached a ceiling on how much I could figure out just by idling around and reviewing facts that I already knew.
Right now I’m about 68% sure that [Nodens’] plans are to recreate the [Tuatha de Danann] empire and the [yellow monoliths] are the key to achieving that.
Even with the help of the [Gladsheim drone] analyzing the components of the yellow monolith there’s only so much I can figure out. I’ve recreated the experiments on a smaller scale on animals and have found some interesting facts.
The yellow monolith while being an inanimate object acts more like a parasite. It latches onto the dead host and controls their thought process directly, ‘id est’ – zombies.
How this works is that the yellow monolith projects a sphere of influence around itself, the bigger the crystal the larger the influence. Anything that dies within the sphere is infected with the [Crystalline curse].
Then what happens is the dead host’s mind gets added to a collective server within the yellow monolith in a similar way to how a bee queen controls her hive. What this effectively means is that if you take control of the monolith you can theoretically take control of the entire crystalline army that the monolith is managing.
Of course doing this would require a lot of power and concentration.
Interestingly, what this does mean is that I could interfere with the commands given by the yellow monolith and override the directives within the dead host’s minds by using [Reanimate dead].
This is because [reanimate dead] takes direct control of the target’s body whereas the yellow monolith takes control of the brain. I can effectively cease the electrical pulses coming from the brain so it no longer receives commands from the monolith but still retains the benefits of having the crystalline curse, meaning greater speed, stamina, effective immortality.
Though I’ve yet to determine how many of these I can directly control at a single given moment.
To be completely honest I may have hit a wall on how much I can research by myself with the limited resources and sources here. Still, I don’t know if I’m ready to leave just yet.
“From my point of view you’ve managed to produce an exceeding amount of results from the limited sources available to you. However if you want my honest opinion I do believe that it’s time to look at other places.”
Sitting across a small round, wooden table in the flower shop was Enrich who was calmly sipping tea.
“Leaving the orphanage. I won’t say that the thought never crossed my mind but I wouldn’t know where to start even if I did.”
I answer him hesitatingly.
I start caressing the space between my eyes with my left hand. I thought that habit would’ve died along with right arm but as they say, ‘old habits die hard’.
It wasn’t exactly a secret that I do that whenever I’m stuck on something, hesitating or frustrated. As someone who dabbles in diplomacy Enrich was easily able to notice my habits.
Perhaps it was because of that he passed onto me a sealed envelope.
I took the letter for a few seconds because I couldn’t understand what he was trying to get at. Was this letter for me? Can I open it?
“Actually the other day a letter came for me about a job opportunity.”
I let out involuntarily. Why did he suddenly decide to change the direction of the conversation?
“An old acquaintance of mine who works as the headmaster for a prestigious school is going to retire soon and he asked me to take over.”
“School? You’re not going to tell me that I should go with you and use the sources over there, are you?”
“As expected, you catch on quickly.”
I eyed him dubiously.
“No offense but my thesis is about the possibilities of [Ascension]. If sources regarding that kind of topic can be easily found in a school then everyone would’ve already tried their hands on it.”
He nod in agreement, but his calm smile doesn’t fade.
“Of course I’m well aware of that. However there are two primary reasons why I think it would be beneficial for you to enroll at that school.”
He stretches up two fingers.
I took a sip from my cup of tea. It was a bitter flavor, not something that easily suited my tastes; it was a more European style tea. Lina would’ve gone nuts over having a taste of this.
“The first is that it isn’t just any school. Have you heard of the [Ariadyne Panoptic Academy]? It is a prestigious academy with numerous valuable source materials, even if you can’t find any direct sources, you may find some indirect ones that could lead to a different but worthwhile discovery.”
[Ariadyne Panoptic Academy]…
I have done some background research into this world and that place did come up a few times. Often times many great people who influenced the history of this world were graduates of that place.
If I’m not mistaken it was at the [Grand Capital]; the center of Ariadyne and it was a neutral zone as well. Basically it’s like this world’s equivalent to the [Vatican].
However as I said, what I’m researching is having to ascend to godhood, it’s not as trivial as becoming an influential politician or great mage.
“Like I said, my research topic is on a whole different level.”
“Is that how you truly feel? From my perspective you simply don’t want to leave. Pardon me, but in your own words the people in this place has become your ‘family’. Perhaps it is the unwillingness of letting them go that’s keeping you here and ultimately delaying your research?”
I’m unwilling to leave?
It’s true that I’ve grown attached to the people here. [Miko], [Diana], all the children of the orphanage have become my new family… am I unwilling to leave them?
No, that can’t be. I was always a person that took initiative. Especially during circumstances like this that may influence the future of this world I wouldn’t use them as an excuse for my lack of willingness to face reality.
Enrich took another sip of his tea.
As he placed it down a small ‘tinging’ noise reverberated against the small wooden table. It brought me back to my senses.
How long was I in deep contemplation?
I could see the condensation dripping from the side of my tea cup.
I shook my head rid myself of such pessimistic thoughts.
“What’s the second reason?”
“Right, the second reason. Are you aware of geographic phenomenons known as a [Dungeon]?”
[Dungeons]. In RPG terms they would be the place that monsters usually inhabit in heavy numbers and at the end of it there’s a final boss guarding some treasure room.
Of course that was a juvenile way of putting it but to be entirely fair it wasn’t actually that off from how it is in this world. It’s a dangerous underground cave that’s concentrated with mana making the monsters that naturally live there magnitudes stronger than their cousins that lives on the surface.
Also like games there was indeed a final boss type monster guarding a hoard of treasure. Actually there are some speculations on whether [Dungeons] itself is a living being; manipulating monsters that live inside it and draw the ire of curious adventurers with treasure who inevitably fall prey and are killed and consumed.
“Yes, I’m aware of their existence but what does that have to do with the academy?”
“There’s actually an infamous dungeon located on the school grounds. There are rumors spreading around that at the end of the dungeon there is a [Mystic Well] and if you drink from it, it will grant you eternal life.”
“While I find that rather amusing, what does that have to do with [Ascension]?”
“Surely you’ve come across it during your research. All gods have an infinite lifespan, that couldn’t be mere coincidence right?”
“By your logic homunculi are also gods since they too have an infinite lifespan.”
“That’s simply just semantics. You should know very well as a [Necromancer] the difference between a divine individual and a homunculus. In any case I believe it is worth having a look into it, of course it’s up to you whether you will take up on my offer.”
Of course he’s not wrong, but to suddenly leave. How would the children react to that news?
“If you do take up on my offer, you will then be granted freedom and exceptions to attending any classes. Your focus is on your research after all.”
I took a moment to think about it. It is true that if I go there, even if I don’t get any direct information there might be new leads which can become a breakthrough for my research. Staying here will obviously be of no help.
By all logic I should go; as he says the advantages of going greatly outweigh the advantages of staying.
“When do you plan on leaving for the [Grand Capital]?”
“From this letter I’m to replace the old headmaster by the start of next year. The trip from here to the Grand Capital will likely take around 10 to 11 months so I will probably have to leave in 2, perhaps 3 weeks at maximum.”
“Alright, I’ll give you an answer before then.”
“Of course, I will be eagerly awaiting your reply.”
A few days later I still wasn’t able to make up my mind about going or not. No that’s not true, deep down I’ve already made up my decision to leave, it was just that I was having trouble bringing up the topic with either Miko and Diana or the children.
Miko and Diana would probably send me off with a smile, but the children are a different story. [Alice] especially how has an aversion for people leaving, if I were to leave now, how would she react?
I roughed up my own hair trying to think about it. This was so tiring.
“What’s wrong Morgant?”
Ren who was sitting next to me asked. We were just sitting against the wall of our not so secret, ‘secret’ place watching Alice and Celina exchange ‘girl talk’.
As you can see it was just another peaceful day at the orphanage.
I’ve spent the last 5 years with these children and have become attached. It really makes me thinking every time; ‘If I had children of my own’.
I would come home from work, Kyoko would be setting up dinner, my children would come up to me and say ‘welcome home daddy’.
Of course that future has long been closed off and I’ve already accepted that fact.
I called out to him in a soft voice.
I could hear the small sounds of him tinkering with some sort of technical contraption, like always.
He responds to my call but only pays minimal attention.
“What… What would you do if I left?”
Then the small sounds of machinery tinkering stopped. Total silence.
He turned his eyes towards me with a serious gaze. His small lips started to drag downwards forming a frown.
“Don’t even joke about that.”
Of course it wouldn’t just be Alice who would be troubled if I suddenly left. Most likely Celina too wouldn’t want that either.
I laughed at myself in a defeated manner. So this must be what it’s like for fathers to leave their wife and children while going on a real business trip. It’s even hard to bring it up.
“Morgant. Don’t tell me you are?”
Ren was a smart kid, he instantly caught onto what I was trying to say. I couldn’t face him in fear of what his expression would be like. It hurt me emotionally to think that I would be causing pain to these children.
“Why aren’t you saying anything?”
“Sorry? What are you sorry about? Are you really thinking of leaving?”
When Ren raised his voice to contest me, Alice and Celina overheard and was looking in our direction. I could only face the ground with my down.
“Stop apologizing and tell me what’s going on.”
Alice and Celina came over with a worried expression.
“I’ll most likely have to leave the orphanage soon.”
“Are you leaving, Morgant?”
Alice asked in a meek voice.
“… Why? Didn’t- you say that you’ll stay- with us? Why are you- leaving now?”
She was trying to hold it together but her voice was starting to crack and she was having trouble holding back her tears.”
“Sorry, this is an important matter, there’s something that I need to do.”
Eh? I was bracing myself for an incoming wave of screaming and pleading me not to go from Alice but instead she told me that she was scared.
I looked up at her. She was crying but she was keeping herself composed to the best of her ability.
I see, she’s grown up as well. She’s much stronger emotionally.
“The last time you left, you came back without an arm. I’m scared that the next time you leave you won’t come back at all.”
Why did I trail off? Why didn’t I tell them I’d be back and that they had no reason to worry?
Was it because in my heart I knew that this would be different than last time? The time period apart would be years and not just a single month. I couldn’t even guarantee I wouldn’t die from whatever I was up against.
Why couldn’t I at least keep up my façade and lie?
“We’ll go with you!”
Ren interrupted my thoughts and told me.
Come where? To the grand capital?
Certainly if it was a more selfish request; if they said they wanted to go to school in order to receive an education I would seriously consider it. Enrich also wouldn’t mind if they joined as well.
However that was obviously not what they wanted to do. What they wanted to do was come with me, to fight alongside me.
No, that’s way too dangerous. I would never send my own children off to a battlefield and I won’t send these children either.
I shook my head firmly.
“No. You can’t.”
I steeled my heart to say what I needed in order to prevent them from following me to a battlefield.
“Why?! I know you’ve been doing some research on something, if we come with you we can help you!”
It hurts but this has to be said.
I put up my façade and scoffed at him.
“Hah, You kids help me? Don’t give me that. What can you do? You’ll just be a burden, so just stay here like good little children.”
A tense silence followed my harsh criticism.
The truth was, it was the first time I’ve ever taken such a harsh tone with them so they probably didn’t know how to respond.
“What- did you just say?”
Ren grabs me by the collar and tries to push me against the wall. He thought he could because he had a taller stature than me, but it didn’t turn out the way he wanted. Simply put, my stats were greater than his, there’s no way a 10 year old could ever hope to push me.
I needed to act tougher. I needed to make myself into an insurmountable wall, then these children will finally understand that they can’t help me and they’ll stay here.
“I said that there’s nothing you can do to help me so just stay here like good little children.”
“Stop it! Stop fighting!”
Alice screamed out.
Then she suddenly started to run away.
“Ah! Wait Alice!”
Celina went after her.
Ren glared at me for a few seconds before letting me go and also chased after Alice.
I was left to ponder by myself whether what I just did was right or wrong.
“Haha… ‘right’ or ‘wrong’? What does that even mean?”
I asked myself. I was the one who said that there was never a right or wrong choice. In the end what really remained where choices with consequences.
This is how it should be. Those children won’t be put in harm’s way; the path I’m on will only take away their freedom and futures.
After what seemed like an hour or two I decided to head back inside.
When I returned back into the main house of the orphanage there was a strange uproar going on.
“What’s going on?”
I asked Miko who was getting a bit more fidgety than normal.
She tried to suppress her anxiety but I could see it behind that façade.
“Ah, Morgant. You haven’t seen Alice have you?”
“Alice? No, did something happen?”
“Ah, well that’s…”
She trailed off before I could hear anything concrete but someone else was there to tell me.
“She went missing.”
It was Ren. He was still mad at me which was why he had a more colder tone than usual.
“Just after she ran away from us. Diana went out to search for her.”
Diana? And not Miko?
Something’s amiss here.
However before I could come to any real conclusion something else happened.
A bright silvery light flashed through the window temporarily blinding us. When the light subsided a pillar of silver light appeared from the distance reaching up to the skies.
The light was so intense that the town known for perpetual snow stopped snowing.
This kind of phenomenon I’ve seen it before.
It was back at [Vertloch Downpour] when Dagda transformed!
Could it be?! An enemy attack?!
Instantly fearing the worst I rushed out of the orphanage and into the direction of the pillar of light.
Celina shouted for me from behind but I didn’t stop. I kept running.
This can’t be happening. It defied reason; it couldn’t be an enemy attack, there was no reason for any of Nodens’ ilk to attack this small town.
The place that the silver pillar of light was located at was in an empty, open area just a little left off the orphanage. The grounds that were supposed to be surrounded by white snow had all been melted away and for the first time I could see blades of green grass underneath.
Upon arriving at the scene there was a violent maelstrom surrounding the entire place. Purple and red colored static bolts flew across the plains, anyone below level 40 would’ve instantly been zapped and fried.
At the center of the malicious maelstrom was Alice’s figure in midair and surrounded by a pillar of light. Above her head was a small black crystal and from within it small black feathers came out slowly, one by one and fell to the ground.
That wasn’t a monolith shard or divine energy or anything I knew. However I did know that I had a bad feeling about this. This silvery light especially and the massive surge of power from this maelstrom.
It’s just like when ‘they’ enter god-mode.
Unable to approach any further and standing a few meters away was Diana who held a large metallic tower shield in order to protect herself from the static storm.
I called out to her and she turned around in surprise.
“Morgant? What are you doing here?! It’s dangerous so go back!”
As soon as she said those words, violent hurricanes started to appear blocking off my exit.
Not that I was going to run away but it sealed away my escape route, almost as though it was responding to Diana words.
I quickly ran to take cover behind Diana’s shield. Even though I would’ve been fine for a little while in the static maelstrom because of my defenses, I decided to take cover because it was getting hard to hear her due to the heavy winds.
“What’s going on?!”
Diana made a painful expression as she hesitated in telling me. She was definitely hiding something, but it was already too late to hide it any further, not when I’ve already seen all this.
“Alice is… she’s awakening.”
Awakening? To what?
I was going to ask her but it seems that I didn’t have to. Alice’s body started to change; to grow. Into a figure of a fully grown picture-esque woman, perhaps in her late 20s. it replaced the figure of Alice. The color of her long golden hair became darker, almost black in its tone. Wings started to sprout from her back, but unlike Nodens’ wings which were pure white these were pure black.
Almost like… a crow…
A crow? No, it can’t be.
The [Ulster cycle trinity]?!
I focused my vision and tried to read her name and title.
[Morrigan. Level 168, Phantom Queen]
I was right!
The Ulster cycle trinity refer to three sister deities from the Celtic pantheon. [Nemain], [Morrigan] and [Macha].
I did consider the probability of their existence in this world, but I didn’t think I would encounter them so quickly. I also entertained the possibility of having them on our side against Nodens but this changes things.
“What did you mean when you said that Alice was awakening? What’s really going on?”
I had to ask. This situation was getting too convoluted.
Once again Diana hesitated to speak but did so nonetheless.
I understand that prying into other people’s business might not be the best idea but I needed to know. Why Alice?
“Alice is… in truth, Alice’s true identity is the goddess [Morrigan]. Even till now I don’t fully comprehend the story but from what she told me was that she sealed herself in human form to escape a ‘great destruction’.”
Sealed herself in human form? And that form is Alice?
‘Great destruction’? That does sound suspiciously like the [Ragnarok] event.
“Diana, I want the unabridged version later, but for now we need to stop her from awakening, right?”
“…Yes, she’s confused right now, so if she awakens in that state it would be disastrous.”
Right, I suspected as much.
If I had to guess, that floating black crystal is the key her awakening. So if I destroy it? I slightly extended my hand away from the shield and was met with quite a shock, it was getting stronger.
“Morgant! Are you alright?!”
Even in the midst of this she still worries about me. I have a lot to owe to her as well.
I summoned several [Obsidian Lances] and tried to fling them towards the crystal but most of them were intercepted by the static and disintegrated in a matter of seconds. Not to mention the ones that did hit only left a small scratch.
This is absurd, even a level 50 [Obsidian Lance] won’t penetrate that?
Then what other options do I have? I need a stronger attack.
Dammit, this wasn’t looking good. I don’t think I’d last much longer if I went out without any sort of protection. By the looks of it this tower shield won’t hold up for too much either. Luckily Diana was wearing rubbery gloves to absorb the electricity but the shield itself was also acting as a lightning rod.
Actually, could I use that to my advantage?
If I throw this shield closer to the side it could temporarily draw the static lightning away but if in the case a stray lightning bolt hit Diana it would be terrible. I should’ve acted much faster when the static was weaker instead of trying to make sense of the situation.
“Diana, I have an idea but I’m going to need to borrow your shield for a bit.”
She looks at me for a bit but agrees. She didn’t even think of her own protection and allowed me to take away her sole cover.
Obsidian isn’t the most sturdiest of materials but it should hold up for a few moment if I surround her in my [Obsidian Shield].
I took the handle of the tower shield from Diana and then proceeded to summon 12 [Obsidian Shields] in an arc around her.
She had a perplexed look on her face as she didn’t really know about my powers.
Alright now that that’s out of the way I need to strengthen my attack. How do I do that?
The only answer I could think of in this situation was to transform into [Nyarlathotep] and throw it physically like a javelin. The [strength] and [dexterity] boost I get from the transformation should be enough. I think.
I did have reservations about transforming in front of Diana but what choice did I have?
I stood up activated my transformation.
Like before black clouds surrounded me in a sphere and when it subsided the 2m hulking figure of Nyarlathotep was left.
It was blatantly obvious that Diana had many questions for me as I did for her but that will have to wait.
I moved back a bit and threw the metallic tower shield towards my right.
As I did the all of the static reacted to the shield and concentrated around that locale. How do you like them apples! Taste the power of 21st century basic science!
I summoned an [Obsidian Lance] and grabbed it tightly with my left arm. My dominant arm was my right but I have practiced over these two years to use my left arm.
With the static currents out of the way I threw the lance with all my might towards the black crystal.
In a clean direct hit the crystal shattered into pieces, but as it did the electrical storm became more violent, shocking me directly. It wasn’t fatal but it did hurt, I started to bleed from around my chest.
I kneeled back behind the wall of [obsidian shields].
I thought I made the situation worse but when I checked back the storm started to become weaker. The silver light was also subsiding.
“Did it work?”
Alice, or Morrigan in her unconscious state was going to start falling. Of course she would if the power keeping her afloat ceased. I wouldn’t be too worried in normal circumstances but she was actually fairly high up.
Without thinking I made a straight line dash to catch her.
I made it just in time.
I supported her entirely with my left arm. On closer inspect she was an extraordinary beauty, the likes of which I have never seen in this life or my previous.
Her face was a perfect shape, her black hair flowed and felt like silk. Her luscious pink lips, her fair tone.
Slowly the woman in my arms started to open her eyes.
Did her awakening finish? Was I too late?
Letting out my name she closed her eyes and as she did her figure became smaller and smaller. In a few seconds she was back to the Alice I was used to.
With all the disruption and surge of power gone the snow started to fall peacefully once more.
I undid my transformation and fell down in fatigue as well.
This is too much excitement for me. I really only ever wanted a peaceful life but why does everything have to become so convoluted? It’s like I can’t go a single day without some major global conspiracy breaking loose in front of me. The world itself is tormenting me.
I looked back to Alice who was sleeping comfortable on the icy cold snow. If she sleeps here she’ll catch a cold.
Diana came to pick her up and we decided to return to the orphanage.
By the time we returned it was lights out at the orphanage. Everyone had gone to sleep except for a select few. Among them were Miko, Ren and Celina who were waiting for us to return with Alice.
After confirming Alice was okay, Ren left without saying anything.
I could only apologize to him in my heart as I wasn’t allowed to show weakness, else my plans for them to stay at the orphanage would be for naught.
“Ah wait Ren!”
Celina glanced at me with an uneasy look before following after Ren.
“We should get Alice up to her room first.”
Diana nodded at my suggestions.
Alice opened her eyes slowly and looked around to confirm her surroundings. Then almost out of nowhere she suddenly jot up and screamed in agony.
“Noo! No! No! No! No!”
I called out to her to calm her down but she wasn’t listening.
She covered her ears and continued to scream.
Diana who was standing next to me tried to approach her but was pushed away by an invisible force. It was likely that even though she returned to her child form there were some residue remaining from her half failed awakening.
Oddly enough I was able to approach her. Having no other choice I got close and held her in my arms.
“Alice! Alice! Look! Look at me!”
I told her. Right now she was on the verge of remembering what had taken place before and because of that she may be going through a traumatic experience.
I needed to take her mind off of that in order to calm her down.
“No~! No… Noooo…”
“Alice, it’s okay now. It’s all over. It’s okay.”
She reciprocated and held tightly onto me. Her body temperature became oddly cold it almost hurt. I could feel the shivering of her body.
“It’s okay Alice. I’m here.”
She continued to quietly sob in my embrace for a few more minutes before completely calming down.
“Are you okay now Alice?”
She shook her head.
Mmm, this was rather troublesome. I took out the skull and cross hairpin that I got from Kyoko; Alice had given it back to me when I returned.
I placed it in Alice’s hair.
“See now Alice? As long as you hold onto that hairpin you will be safe. No bad memories will come back. Understand?”
She meekly nodded.
“Good girl. Now it’s time for you to sleep, and when you wake up tomorrow everything will return to normal.”
I tucked her back into bed and pulled up her blankets close to her.
Diana softly smiled at me.
“It’s a little hard to believe you’re really only 10 years old.”
“Perhaps I’m not.”
I said jokingly. Though it wasn’t a lie she giggles and takes it as one.
“Will that hairpin really contain her powers?”
I shook my head.
“No, of course not. It doesn’t have such powers; it’s a normal hairpin but the influence a person’s mind has over them is a powerful force. As long as she believes sincerely that her wearing that hairpin won’t cause any more trauma then it won’t.”
I explain to Diana but she doesn’t quite understand. In essence I was trying to invoke a placebo effect, but trying to explain modern science to the people of this world would be fruitless.
I’m not looking down on them for being more primitive, it’s simply that they haven’t yet uncovered the scientific foundations to understand what I’m telling them.
“I’ll just have to trust you on that.”
Her voice is really alluring, almost to the point where I wouldn’t believe that she’s level 44.
People that powerful usually have a more husky, brooding voice after what they needed to go through in order to level up this high.
As I explained earlier, people of this world usually have a maximum level cap. The fact that she’s level 44 means that she’s gone way passed the average level cap, in other words she’s had some experiences that pushed her past her human limits.
Seeing the pure maiden with hair that could fool me into believe they were real gold and face that would put the Mona Lisa to shame, you couldn’t blame me for doubting her combat oriented background right?
If there was one indication, it was that her class was set to [Templar Knight].
Seeing as how Alice was asleep it was a good time to ask.
“Diana, do mind explaining everything now?”
She became silent for a bit. She contemplated on whether she should really tell me. I knew her well enough to know that she wasn’t trying to hoard knowledge or anything like that, it was that she was simply worried that telling me might lead to something more dangerous.
For that reason I decided to extend an olive branch; to make it easier for her to tell me.
“To be honest, it’s not like I’m totally in the dark in regards to what’s going on.”
At my words she freezes in place.
Diana is hesitating because she’s worried that telling me may result in something dangerous. If that’s the case then it’s simple, I merely need to change it from a ‘confession’ to ‘filling in the gaps’.
Though to be honest the Ulster trinity is a rather hazy topic for me, not because I didn’t have much knowledge on it but because the records that remain of them are all convoluted. Even their names aren’t consistent among the stories containing them.
That’s in regards to my world’s Ulster trinity. As for this world most likely they were also part of the [Tuatha de Danann].
“Correct me at any point if I’m wrong. Many millennia ago there were three sisters, [Morrigan], [Nemain] and [Macha]. Represented by a crow, the three sisters were revered as goddesses of war. When the mighty empire of the Tuatha de Danann came to an end the three sisters were among the survivors that turned their backs on the High Gods. Was any of what I said true?”
“… I’m amazed, it’s almost as though you were there yourself.”
“I only cross referenced it with my existing knowledge. I don’t know how the three goddesses relate to Alice or where they are now. That’s why I’m asking you, please tell me.”
“If I tell you, what will you do with that information?”
What will I do? I haven’t quite thought about it that far because it’s been so hectic. At first I wanted to recruit the Ulster trinity into my circle of alliances against Nodens but-
If that means dragging Alice to war, then I don’t know what I want to do.
“I don’t know. At first I thought about recruiting them but right now I’m unsure about it.”
I suppose it’s only fair to tell her about my situation to her since she’s telling me something equally important.
I spent the next hour or so explaining to her who I truly was and what I was trying to do. Of course I excluded the part about my reincarnation, that would be troublesome to explain.
“… I see, A [Demon General] at the age of 3, when I see how capable you are somehow that isn’t exactly surprising.”
She warmly smiles as she pats my head.
“I understand I’ll explain who Alice truly is and at a lesser extent, who I really am as well.”
About 3000 years ago I was living as a slave under the Tuatha de Danann empire. It wasn’t anything special back then, everyone was living under the fear of High God and his empire.
My own family had already disappeared before I could even form coherent sentences. However, because I didn’t get the opportunity to know them I wasn’t too sad; you cannot grieve for people you never knew.
Every day was grueling manual labor.
People that I’ve come to know were regularly killed or succumbed to the pain and ended their own lives, but I struggled through with the best of my own abilities. Someday I wanted to avenge the people that were crushed by the empire, I wanted to tell the ones who ruled over us that we existed.
One day an incident occurred.
One of the guards who were overseeing us started to punish some children who weren’t working too hard. In order to motivate them through fear the guard killed a child in front of me.
When I saw that something within me snapped. Fear did fill me but for a different reason, overcome by blind rage I attacked the guard. I push back the guard and continued to assault him with the weapons I had hidden just in case something happened.
To my surprise I managed to defeat the guard. Thinking back now, he was probably only surprised that I knew how to fight back, his own arrogance was what killed him.
From that incident a small underground movement to rebel against the Tuatha de Danann started to assemble. With me at the epicenter. I was full of confidence and motivation to finally be able fight back at the oppressors.
Countless people from every race gathered around me in order to fight. What I didn’t know was that just like the guard I managed to defeat, I was also starting to become blind from my own arrogance.
Despite all the warning signs I pressed an attack on one of the citadels that represented the Tuatha de Danann government. People who rallied under me swarmed the citadel.
However that was the biggest mistake of my life.
It was then I truly learnt why we were living under their oppression to begin with. On that day every one of our resistance movement was slaughtered right before my eyes, but the worst part was that the enemy didn’t even suffer a single casualty.
It was already too late by the time I had realized just how much of a difference in strength we had. I was surrounded by the enemy and was about to meet with my own death.
However a just before the blade that took so many of my comrade’s life was about to take my head it was intervened. Surrounded by a dark light; a light that glowed black, I cannot describe this phenomenon in a better way.
When the dark light subsided, all that were remaining were the corpses of the enemy solider.
There a womanly figure appeared before me. With wings as black as the night I had thought that the angel of death had come for me.
However that was not the case.
[Morrigan] the goddess revered as the [phantom queen] due to her elusive and cruelly powerful nature. She had appeared before me. She had spared my life.
When I asked her why she saved me she answered.
“Because you piqued my interests.”
At such a cruel answer I could only sarcastically laugh. I was saved not because of my strength or valor, but merely on a whim of hers.
I could not take it anymore, I asked her, no, I begged her to take my life as well. I could not live with myself for the mistakes and the countless unnecessary sacrifices I made.
She then told me something that would change my mind.
“If you wish to die then that will be the end of it, but if you die now you will not get the witness the finale of the cruel empire and its arrogant king.”
Perplexed, I asked her what she meant.
She told me that the empire had received an ultimatum from an unknown figure and that soon the empire will collapse.
I couldn’t believe it, no one could. The empire that had ruled over us for so many generations to finally be stopped.
“But as part of the empire myself, I fear that I will also be amongst the casualties of the great end. That is why I have chosen you to become my vassal.”
I asked what she mean.
“My sisters and I will seal ourselves away in order to avoid the great end. In due time we will awaken but whilst we are sealed we will become powerless, for that reason you must protect me.”
With no other directions or meaning remaining for my life I accepted her offer. I was taken to her altar where I was baptized as her vassal. A [Templar Knight].
With it I was granted immortality and comparable strength.
In repentance for all of the lives I squandered I wear this white garb now.
In the end Morrigan was right. The empire was swallowed up in a great flame and it came to an end.
The form that the goddess Morrigan used to seal herself was Alice. In order to keep the seal a secret from herself, Alice’s memories would be erased after each year, but recently that was not the case. Over these last five years she had been growing, something that should not have been, she was supposed to be in the body of a 5 year old.
I determined the cause to be that her seal was weakening and she was starting to awaken. That’s why her memories no longer erased after each year and that she started to age.
-MORGANT FALLON’S SIDE-
I’m not entirely sure what to make of this new information.
For now I’ll summarise it.
3000 years ago during the reign of the Tuatha de Danann, the Ulster cycle trinity did indeed exist. However from the story that Diana just told me, it doesn’t seem like they were particularly close with Nodens, in fact it almost sounds as though they despised him.
In order to escape [Ragnarok] the trinity decided to seal themselves away in a temporary mortal body. I should be correct to assume that while in those states they don’t have access to any of their powers and can be killed.
In order to prevent themselves from awakening at the wrong time they made it so they would lose their memories after each year. Of course doing that would put them at risk of death by confusion, for example if their memories were wiped at the wrong time it would be extremely dangerous. In order to mitigate those external risks they each chose a ‘vassal’ to help them and protect them.
These vassals are known as [Templar Knights].
Templar Knights also have temporary immortality but other than that they’re only slightly stronger than the average human, or so I assume from looking at Diana’s level.
While that may seem like a problem to most people, if it were me I wouldn’t choose someone based on their level but based on their resourcefulness. The job of the vassal is to protect the sealed goddess, yes but it would be impossible to expect them to be able to defend them against every threat.
For that reason I would choose someone who could ‘hide’ me while I was vulnerable.
At least that’s how I’m going to go about rationalizing Morrigan’s choice of choosing Diana. Not for her power but for her uses.
“Would it be possible to tell me who the other members of the Trinity are sealed as?”
She hesitates but agrees nonetheless.
“The host body of [Macha] is unknown, I’ve never even seen them or their vassal. The only thing I know about them is that they’re most likely located somewhere in South Ariadyne.”
“It can’t be helped if you don’t know. What about the host for [Nemain]? Have you maintained contact with them?”
“Yes, We have been sending letters to and fro for a while now. The host for the Nemain is a person named [Lorna Crow Xix Ariadyne]; the wife of the Tetrarch of West Ariadyne. Her vassal is a physician who works at their castle named [Nicholai].”
Wife of the West Tetrarch? How old is she? I mean physically, because Alice looks like she’s 10. I’m aware that there are no laws regarding age of marriage but still.
“Just how old is the host for Nemain?”
“The host? Most likely she’s also at least 3000 years old?”
“I mean physically.”
I eyed Alice to insinuate what I was inferring to.
“Oh! No, no, no. I was told that Nemain’s seal was weakening long before Alice’s. So physically she should look around her early 30s, I was told she even bore three children.”
“Children? Does that mean that they’re also half-divine?”
Diana shakes her head.
“Unfortunately not, they were born with her human form so the children are also human. It would be a different story if they were born while Nemain was in her true form but alas that wasn’t the case.”
“So if Alice continues to grow, eventually the seal will weaken enough to the point where Morrigan would re-emerge, am I correct to assume this?”
“Yes, that is what I believe.”
At the very least her seal probably won’t break for a while. Since Nemain’s host is already in her 30s, Alice still has at least 20 more years before anything more notable happens.
So then, why was her seal going to break beforehand?
“There is one other thing that concerns me.”
“I was told that Nemain’s host started to get sick and bedridden as the seal weakened. Nicholai told me that the reason for her sickness was because the host bodies which are human were unable to withstand the power sealed within them. Of course with emergency treatment he was able to bring her back to health, but it seems that the seal is standing on its last leg and perhaps in the new future Nemain will fully awaken.”
This may be a noteworthy event. Right now the world is hinged on a very fragile pivot, if Nodens catches wind of this it would stand to reason that he would do everything in his powers to get her on his side.
The pieces are starting to show up on the board and right now it’s free-game. Obviously I’d rather that Nemain be on my side than on Nodens’.
Then there’s Macha, without having any sort of confirmation or information on how she’s doing I might simply have to give up on her and assume Nodens already got to her.
Finally, Alice. Right now she’s probably the most stable in terms of the trinity. Which presents another conundrum, do I stay here and watch over her? If I decide to take her with me, Diana would probably come as well but that would be terrible for the orphanage as a whole.
I always thought that Alice’s aversion from people leaving was something she developed because she lost her parents but that may have ironically started to develop after this orphanage was established.
Leaving that aside, what do I do? Stay? Leave?
No, staying here won’t achieve anything, and Alice probably has at least a decade or two before the seal really starts to weaken. The reasoning for the seal opening up just then was probably because I said I would leave. Trying to stop me from leaving caused her to seek some sort of power to stop me and most likely resulted in the seal’s temporary opening.
Of course this is all just speculation on my part.
I need a moment to think about this. I still have a week or two before I have to make my final decision.
“Thank you Diana. I’m sorry I made you talk against your will.”
She gives me a small chuckle as she pats my head. I know I do it fairly often to others but when it’s happening to me it does feel a little patronizing.
“I think it was a fair trade. I’ve also learnt a lot about you in return, but I think we should stop the conversation here. It’s almost past your bed time.”
I could only laugh at that in response.
“Right, then good night Diana.”
“Good night Morgant.”
She kisses my forehead causing my heart to waver for a second.
“Aren’t you sleeping Ren?”
Celina asked me from across the room. She and I shared the same room, a fact that would usually make me over-joyous but today I felt something else.
“Sorry Celina, I can’t sleep.”
I couldn’t stop thinking about what Morgant said to us.
We were a burden to him?
Is that truly the case?
Sure he acts like he’s so much more mature but he’s just a kid like us right?
He’s no different from us. The words of someone who’s the same as us shouldn’t affect me so much but why does it hurt? I always looked up to him, he was always there to help me.
After my parents died I thought I could never trust anyone again but Morgant helped me change my mind. I thought I could finally open up to someone.
I wanted to believe that we were real friends.
But in the end we were just luggage for him. We were dragging him down.
“What’s going on? Why are the candles still lit?”
Miko came into our room with a slightly annoyed expression. She looked at Celina and myself who was up.
“Ah, sorry Miko, we were going to sleep real soon!”
Celina tries to cover for me, but Miko is not convinced.
“Did something happen?”
Her expression changes, from annoyed to worried. I’ve heard that the beast-kin were good at picking up emotional tension by listening to other people’s heartbeats, so it’s not too surprising that she found out.
Should I tell her?
No, I want to solve this on my own.
“Nothing. I’m just not tired.”
I make up a random excuse.
Celina calls my name sympathetically.
Disregarding my objection Celina tells Miko everything that happened today. What Morgant said and how he and I got into a fight.
While listening to that Miko sighs.
“That brat again, huh. Well it’s not like I can’t understand why he said such things.”
“He hates us that’s why. He thinks we’ll just drag him down so he wants to abandon us.”
I tell her.
“Ren, do you really believe that?”
I couldn’t answer. Why? Do I not believe what I just said? Isn’t that right, though?
Then why can’t I just say ‘yes’?
“I don’t think Morgant really mean what he said. There must be some reason why he said that, right Miko?”
Celina answers for me. She has always trusted Morgant, that’s why they have such a great relationship, to the point where I would sometimes get jealous.
But the truth is I would rather see Morgant and Celina together rather than see him leave.
Tears start to fall from my eyes. I couldn’t stop. It hurt to be called a burden. Morgant who had helped us so much, to be called weak by him I couldn’t stand it.
I wanted to help him.
I wanted him to tell me that I did a good job.
I don’t want him to leave.
Miko started to gently stroke my head. It was a comforting experience, I could understand why Celina liked getting patted on the head so much by Morgant.
“Listen Ren, Morgant is a little different than all the other children.”
She says but I already knew that. He’s smart, capable, strong and kind. I’ve never seen anyone else have such positive traits, not even my own parents.
“I don’t believe Morgant said those things because he hated you but because he thought that was the only way to keep you safe. I can’t tell you too much of the details but what Morgant’s doing is very dangerous, you know that already don’t you? Last time he came back with a missing arm.”
“if that’s the case then why?! If it’s so hard then why can’t he rely on us?! Are we not trustworthy enough for him?!”
The tears wouldn’t stop.
“No, of course not. It’s because he cares too much about you that he doesn’t want you to be put in harm’s way. Someday you will understand, he does a lot of things that may look suspicious and dangerous but in the end he does it all because he cares for all of you. When he says he wants to leave it’s because it’s something that great that requires his attention.”
“What… then what can I do? He’s helped us so much, how am I to ever repay him?”
“One day you’ll grow older and leave this orphanage, when that time comes you can truly start to find your own path to strength. When you’ve become strong enough and you’re confident you can truly stand next to Morgant then you can help him. After all you are… we are all his family.”
Hearing those words I couldn’t stop crying. It was frustrating and it hurt to know that I wasn’t worthy enough to stand next to him now but someday I will truly repay him and we can then be called real friends.
-MORGANT FALLON’S SIDE-
“Have you made your decision?”
Once again I found myself pondering that same question at Lilith’s flower shop. Across the tea table was Enrich with his trademark smile.
“I’ve already made that decision from day one, I just couldn’t say it with my own mouth.”
“I see, and the answer is?”
“I’ve decided to leave. As much as I want to stay, doing so would be a huge disservice to everyone who has helped me get so far. I’m only here on those people’s good wills and I have an obligation to repay their kindness.”
“I figured you’d say as much, but I also heard something else happened at the orphanage, regarding Alice. Wouldn’t studying her also give you another lead into helping your research?”
I don’t know how he found out but I have no intentions of telling him more than what he should know.
What he says is true, if I could study Alice I would gain massive insight on [Ascension] but to do that I would need to inflict mental trauma to make her transform into Morrigan. That would be extremely cruel and there’s no guarantee I would be able to stop her if she did awaken.
Even disregarding the moral components of it, it’s far too risky. As a businessman it’s a risk that I wouldn’t take.
“Very well then. We will be leaving in a week.”
“Should I go pack up my stuff?”
Lilith came to ask with a smiling face. Does she understand what she just said? She wants to close down shop and follow me.
However unfortunately for her I have a little bit of a different job for her.
“No, Lilith you’ll stay here and monitor how Alice is doing. I want you report to me if anything happens.”
In regards to how Lilith was doing these past few years, she actually no longer requires the ‘essence’ of men to maintain her mana. Normal succubi do need to continuously gather that stuff but Lilith and Astaroth do not have to.
Why? Because they’re not the average [Succubus], they’re the demon lord and the demon lord’s daughter. If you ask me it’s a flimsy reasoning but I suppose that’s just how it works, they’re powerful enough to be fine.
Apparently once they reach a certain level they can replenish their own mana. I’ve determined that that level is 60. Which Lilith has achieved, an impressive feat if I do say so myself.
“I see. It will be a little sad to see you leave but if that is your decision then I will obey, because you are my master.”
She does look a little sad. I guess I can leave her with a little bit of a memento.
It’s the first time I’ve tried this but I think it should work, at least in theory.
I squeezed a sample of my power at the center of my palms to create a specific object. A metallic pin if you will.
To my surprise it worked much more easily than I had originally anticipated.
I took a look at it.
A small green colored circular pin with a Celtic knot on it. Why a Celtic knot? I don’t know.
This was a [crest].
All demon generals and the demon lord have these. It’s a proof that someone works under them.
I have Astaroth’s one as well.
“Here, Lilith, take this.”
“My crest. From now on you’ll be my emissary. So take that as substitute of me and continue to do your best.”
“Master… Yes! I’ll make you proud!”
I nodded back.
“Good, I’m counting on you Lilith.”
And so I decided to leave.
Morgant Fallon. Level 56
SUCCESSOR OF THE COSMIC LEGACY
Strength: 230 (155+75)
Dexterity: 60 (5+55)
Intelligence: 50 (5+45)
Insight: 100 (45+55)
[Status point: 95]
(AUGMENT) [Strike+]: Level 41
(ACTIVE) [Summon Skeleton Knight]: Level 31
(ACTIVE) [Transfer Life]: Level 47
(PASSIVE) [Life Force Sensory]: Level 50 (MAX)
(ACTIVE) [Avatar of Nyarlathotep]: Level 15
(ACTIVE) [Wither]: Level 29
(ACTIVE) [Decay]: Level 50 (MAX)
(AUGMENT) [Aura Field]: Level 24
(ACTIVE) [Soul Gambit]: Level 26
(PASSIVE) [Physical Damage Resistance]: Level 50 (MAX)
(ACTIVE) [Obsidian Lance]: Level 50 (MAX)
(ACTIVE) [Obsidian Shield]: Level 50 (MAX)
(ACTIVE) [Reanimate Dead]: Level 30
(AUGMENT) [Enchanting Voice]: Level 23
(PASSIVE) [Lord of Ghosts]: Level 15
(ACTIVE) [Phantasmal Maelstrom]: Level 27
(AUGMENT) [Transformation – Black Pharaoh]: Level 15
(PASSIVE) [Mental Fortress]: Level 50 (MAX)