"You know it's called the Forbidden Chamber for a reason, don't you? What, curiosity got the better of you? You also know that curiosity killed the cat, don't you?"
The being that emerged from the ground while erupting deep green flames spoke to Clay, directly to his mind.
"W-What are you?"
Clay was more cautious than before, and he woke up from the curious feeling he had earlier. Now, he only had one thing on his mind, retreat and never come back.
However, as if he hadn't heard Clay's question. The being moved. His movement was natural as if every physical phenomenon bowed down to him. Fearing that if they moved, it would offend this being. He moved closer to Clay and examined him.
As he went closer to Clay, Clay had a good look at what this being looked like. It was basically a Lich; however, it was filled with deep green flame inside that each of its movement felt eerie and frightening. Its eye sockets had nothing but a brighter shade of green as eyeballs. If one were to compare him to anything, then Ghostrider would have come close, if he quit wearing biker leather and switched to a ghastly deep green flame.
It also wore a torn robe at its seams and edges as if torn from ages of not changing from it. However, its garment did not diminish its ruling aura. Clay felt that just breathing required his permission in his presence. A good thing that Clay at least had enough strength to resist this urge to ask for permission.
"Hmmm… How curious. You seem to already be beyond the threshold of ascending, yet you still haven't ascended. What's preventing you from ascending, hmmm?" The being spoke again and made Clay even more curious.
"Ascension?" Clay was curious as well, so he asked.
"Yes, ascension. Although, it took me almost 3 millenniums to finally ascend, I still achieved it. You look young, but you must be older than just 25 years old right? Let me guess, you've been accumulating strength until even 6 millenniums to make sure you ascend properly? You're one of those cautious ones huh?"
Clay was even more intrigued by this being's topic. Clay wanted to test the waters and asked cautiously, "So you're a god?"
The flames that floated around the being Clay suspected as a god erupted again as the deep green turned brighter from the eruption.
The god looked at Clay musingly as if it pierced through the veil of knowledge.
It then said, "I see. I know why you're here. You want to seek my help in ascension do you not?" It paused and stopped floating around as it moved its face closer to Clay before floating back and continuing,
"However, my help does not come at a cheap price. I may be a god; however, I am still a Lesser Deity even after I ascended a thousand years ago. In my ascension, my soul had been damaged. Helping you ascend will weaken me for a good thousand years and my quest of mending my soul would come to a halt." The lesser deity said before it continued still,
"You catch my drift, don't you? So, my proposal is, after I help you ascend, you will help me mend my soul to its full capacity. This way, we both win. What say you?" The lesser deity proposed.
Clay who was oblivious about anything that the lesser deity was talking about could only keep quiet for a minute before asking, "What do you need to mend your soul?" It was a crucial question and the follow up was even more important. Especially the catch. Deals like this always end up in tragedy for the agreeing party.
"Well, in this world, I helped these little children to cover the sun so they can bloom, and I could help them ascend so they can help me later. However, since you are here already, and I wouldn't have to wait for them to be fully ripe for ascension. I'll have you help me instead and instead of needing the souls of the inhabitants of this world, I'll only need the 6 little kids.
"If you help me recover later, then I'll help you ascend to godhood. However, we must make a contract about it for your and my sake. What say you?" The lesser deity proposed again.
This time, Clay at least understood why there are 6 Grand Liches and even the reason for the Sun to be hidden away. It was the work of a lesser deity. Even Clay could not do something like this with his power. He could make an illusion but hiding the Sun through a god's power is a different story.
But wait, I saw the Sun outside the atmosphere, then does that mean this god's method was also just illusion? He couldn't help but ask, "How did you hide the Sun?"
Hearing the interesting question, the lesser deity turned to Clay once again and answered him with enthusiasm.
"That was my first act of miracle in this world. Hur Hur Hur! I first covered the entire world with hazy fog and then an illusion of having the Sun disappear. You know how much divinity it costs to cover this world with an illusion? A planetary-scale illusion. That takes a lot of energy and effort! It's a miracle! Hur Hur Hur!"
In its excitement, the lesser deity spilled his first act of miracle in this world.
"Can I ask you a question?" Clay was also curious about the way this deity looked. It felt that it was too ghastly so maybe it was a god of death or something. However, contrary to Clay's imagination,
"Oh, this? I was a Lich King a long time ago, and when I ascended, I took on the most comfortable appearance I could get so, I look like this now. You'll understand these things when you also experience it later."
Clay wanted to ask a few more questions however, the lesser deity had noticed that Clay was stalling his answer, so he warned him.
"I warn you. I may speak casually like this, however, as a mortal, you're still in no position to be a threat to me. A snap of my fingers will snuff the life out of you even if you are on the verge of ascension. So, better give me your answer now, or I'll just kill you and wait for my little cuties to mature. What's another few millennium of wait? To a god, time is irrelevant." It said.
As Clay did not want to die just yet, he accepted the Lich god's proposal and made a contract with him. Reading the contract carefully before binding themselves upon it.
The moment both parties agreed, Clay felt the oppressing feeling disappear and was replaced with natural feeling.
"Now then. We've established the contract, now we should hurry up and help you ascend. The sooner you ascend, the sooner I'll recover!" After saying so, the lesser deity snapped his bony hands and a book larger than the previous Grimoire that Clay took from the little soldier appeared floating in front of the Lich god.
"The thing about ascension is that; first, you have to discard your body and eliminate all physical binds to enlarge your soul and take it all in – your skills, stats and even your abilities; secondly, you have to recreate your body using your soul strength, derived from the excess energy that you inject your soul with; thirdly, your spirit and your body must become one – meaning, you will have a spiritual body and a physical body to alternate between, but not separately. Your spiritual body cannot exist in parallel to your physical body and vice versa; fourthly, you should never tell anyone your name, not even other gods. If you know a god's name, then just uttering that name would give you enough power to blow up half a continent. If another god knows your name, that other god can even use it to enslave you. Be careful."
"You may ask, why I'm helping you so much, however, you don't have to worry. I am not doing this out of the goodness of my heart. I do this because I will benefit as well. What if you rank higher than me when you ascend, that will give me a backer at least in the realm of the gods. That's why, you have to succeed and help me recover!" Clay could hear the Hur Hur Hur laughter of the Lich god.
"Now, let us proceed!" The Lich god started chanting in a ritualistic manner as he started to circle around Clay uttering a language even Clay could not understand through the help of UltiCo. This was beyond UltiCo's capabilities.
Clay was rendered unable to move after the Lich god started the ritual. Clay felt an energy signature that's even more powerful than any energy he encountered. Slowly, a searing pain crept up into Clay's being as his body started disintegrating in real time. The pain and the struggle to stay awake made Clay resentful for his resilience.
Clay remembered the same kind of pain that he chose to bury a long time ago. At the time when Imhoteph gave him his abilities. Remembering that pain and suffering, Clay grit his teeth as his anger skyrocketed. It was anger and frustration for being subjected to this kind of pain again.
A pain he chose to not ever remember! Not even the Lich god could predict that Clay would also lash out like this as even he was now able to feel Clay's full power being released outwards to combat the pain that he was suffering.
"This power… just how powerful was this mortal to actually resist the sway of divinity. I'm using almost all my divinity just to help him ascend and he's making it harder for me to proceed. Dammit!" The Lich god was complaining but he could not stop the ritual now, he could only finish it.
An hour… 3 hours, half a day, a day half a week and then months passed by as the Lich god continued to refine Clay into ascension. Clay's body disintegrated at rate that was slower than melting ice on a sunny day and so the Lich god had to continue doing this for six months already. He was exhausted as well, but he could not stop.
The spirit of Clay also started to disintegrate and get sucked into his soul-vessel. Once this process was over, it would be up to Clay to ascend and become a lesser deity as well, or even a lesser god directly.
"Definitely not going to be a godling. That'd be too much work and too little result." The Lich god muttered.
Another 6 months later, a year had passed since Clay underwent ascension and the final process finally started as Clay's spirit was sucked into his soul. The Forbidden Chamber grew quiet and not even a single fluctuation of power could be felt. Even Clay was nowhere to be found, only a glowing golden flame was left. The Lich god also disappeared from the place, probably sucked into the ground. It was quiet, real quiet.
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